Government has called upon higher education institutions in the country to utilise available digital and technical resources at their disposal in order to  participate in and contribute to the education sector digitalising drive being championed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

Director of Science, Technology and Innovation in the ministry, Prof Chomora Mikeka made the call in Mangochi on Friday during the Malawi Research and Education Network (MAREN) consultative meeting for the Southern Region.

The workshop, which was preceded by similar workshops in the northern and central region, drew together students, librarians,  university network and system engineers,  finance and administration personnel from at least 18 higher education institutions from the south.

“Government has intensified its drive to digitalise the education sector and it is important that higher education institutions are taking a leading role in supporting us realise this goal. We are currently implementing a number of digitalisation initiatives including creating the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS), establishing the education broadcasting radio and zero rating of educational websites. We believe that we can tap from the expertise and capacity that is available within the higher education sector to achieve our objectives,” said Mikeka.

Mikeka also commended MAREN, a not for profit organisation dedicated to providing internet connection and other ICT related services to education and research institutions, for striving to provide affordable, reliable and high speed internet connectivity and other educational services to universities.

“Currently, MAREN has just offered to provide a free internet link to the Malawi College of Education to help them operationalize the online education radio. Apart from connecting the institutions, MAREN is also engaging in a vibrant capacity building for ICT staff in their member institutions. Govrnment is really pleased with this and apart from the goodwill that we have with government, we would like to encourage the institutions to work with MAREN for solutions to their digital challenges,”

MAREN Chief Executive Officer, Solomon Dindi said MAREN is committed to improving service delivery adding the consultative meeting are important for the networks strategic planning.

“We would like appreciate the digital needs of our member institutions so that we take them into account in our new strategic plan. The three consultative meetings have helped us to get a baseline picture of our service delivery and will be key in the formulation of our strategic plan as we will be working towards address the challenges our members are facing rather than just we just wish to offer them,” said Dindi.