By Peter Kanjere, ESCOM PRO
The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) Limited has awarded scholarships worth K10 million to 25 outstanding female electrical engineering students from the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) and The Malawi Polytechnic. The handover ceremony of the scholarships to 16 students from MUST and nine from The Polytechnic took place at Escom Mpemba Training Centre in Blantyre on Tuesday, 27th April 2021.
MUST received K6,100, 000 whereas The Poly got K4,050,000 to cater for the students fees. Eventually, the schools and Escom officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cement their relationship.
Speaking at the ceremony, ESCOM Acting Director of Planning and Development, Charles Kagona, said the corporation was happy to contribute to the empowerment of the students through the scholarships.
“Escom has this responsibility to serve the nation by providing a service which is electricity. This energy provision involves engineering work and we realised that there was a gap in terms of women representation in engineering; hence, we introduced the scholarships to fill that gap. If you leave behind a good section of society such as women then you cannot develop,” he said.
Kagona said the impact of ESCOM’s Social and Gender Inclusion policy is paying dividends as the percentage of women employees in the Corporation has increased from 7 percent in 2014 to 14 percent in 2021.
Taking her turn, MUST Vice-Chancellor, Professor, Address Malata, challenged the beneficiaries of the scholarships to work hard in class, aim higher and develop good character if they are to become successful engineers.
“What is happening here is a fulfillment of the country’s development goals and as institutions we need to be proud that we are making a contribution to these goals. This country must transform. We want Malawi that is transformed. As a university, we believe that we should be world class with high standards that can attract students from other countries such as the UK and Zambia to study here,” she said.
The Polytechnic’s Dean of Education and Media Studies, Dr Dickson Ndenguma, speaking on behalf of the institution’s Acting Principal Dr Nancy Chitera, hailed Escom for empowering the students.
“For so many years, Escom has been supporting us, especially in the engineering department. Escom has been taking our students on industrial attachments and I am one of the beneficiaries. The Polytechnic is striving to achieve equity, which is one of our values. The scholarships are helping a lot in improving the performance of girls in class. Even boys are also working hard because they do not want to be surpassed by the girls,” he said.
Representative of the beneficiaries, Faith Banda from MUST said the scholarship had come at the right time to ease challenges of tuition fees.
“This demonstrates that Escom is committed to provide opportunities to men and women. This scholarship has come at a time parents were struggling to pay fees due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We promise to give our best in class to show that we deserve these scholarships,” Banda said.
Past students’ representative, Mary Mnewa shared with the gathering how the scholarship helped her succeed in her studies without the hassles of tuition fees payment, before she secured a job at Escom.
Earlier, Escom’s Gender and Social Inclusion Manager, Elube Chienda, gave the gathering a briefing about background for the scholarship and gave highlights for the MoU.
Under the scholarships, Escom pays tuition fees for selected outstanding female engineering students while also offering them internship opportunities at the Corporation during school holiday.
Top-three female engineering students with a pass of a credit in a particular academic year earn the scholarship and after graduation, some secure employment at Escom.
EXCITED—Kagona (left) and Malata hoist the dummy cheque--Picture by Emmanuel Mbwana