NEF recognizes Ex-Poly Dean of Engineering

News   Chapter Banda & Mercy Garnet   October 22, 2018
PIC: Associate Prof. Dr Theresa Mkandawire
A former Dean of Faculty of Engineering at the Polytechnic—a constituent college of University of Malawi (UNIMA), Associate Prof. Dr Theresa Mkandawire, has been recognized by Next Einstein Forum (NEF) for her contribution and dedication to science.

Mkandawire received a certificate during the Africa Science Week (ASW) event which took place in Lilongwe in September this year. She was awarded alongside other eight women who also excelled in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and promotion of scientific work in general. 

In an interview, Mkandawire said she was happy and motivated though she was not there as she was also attending a similar function in China where she was the main speaker.  She, however, encouraged more females to go for STEM. 

"Currently, we have a challenge as there are few females going for the STEM , so my passion is to reach out as many girls as possible to go for it," Mkandawire said.

The former dean was the first lady to graduate in Civil Engineering with a distinction in 1993. "For this reason, I want to be a role model for girls. It is lack of role models that is making most girls not to go for STEM," said Mkandawire.  

She added: "I further urge young ladies to work hard and to have a desire to achieve what has not been done before as nothing comes on a silver platter. Young women should have self belief, courage, and be independent as well as focused."

The idea of having the Women in science commemoration and Girls STEM mini-conference for girls with female STEM professionals, during the ASW, promotes Gender mainstreaming and works on the observation that girls become insecure about STEM skills and thus underperform when mixed with boys, supporting the stereotype that boys, not girls, are good at Mathematics , Chemistry, Engineering ,and other Science and Technology fields.

In Malawi, so far , gender mainstreaming is being promoted, where there is high activism  in support of young women and adolescent girls in STEM with some winning prestigious prizes and awards like NEF ambassadors.

NEF is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung was launched in 2013. In 2017 NEF’s ASW was held in 13 countries: Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire , Kenya , Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal,Tanzania, Sudan, South Africa. In this year’s event it has been extended to 35 counties and it is aiming at reaching out all the 54 countries by 2020.

ASW event in Malawi had 60 participants which included nine outstanding awardees, students from Kamphenga CDSS located at Nambuma in Lilongwe, participants of Girl Code from mHub which comprises tertiary education students, and other female professionals in support of the function . 

The nine outstanding women in Science were: Dr Wezzie Mkwaila , Kundai Moyo , and Nthanda Chimwemwe Amin; Technology —Rachael Sibande and Phyllis Manguluti; in Engineering, Edith Naphiyo and Dr Theresa Mkandawire and finally in Mathematics, Dr Mwawi Nyirenda and Haliama. 

The event was sponsored by Johnson and Johnson, and supported by mHub and Malawi Girls in STEM.


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