The effects of Covid-19 have been many and varied. One effect in Malawi is that there is no longer any consistency in the academic calendar across the country’s educational system. Covid-enforced closures and different strategies for responding to them have resulted in much disruption to term times. As we are finishing our academic year at ZTU, other schools are just starting.
We are grateful to be finishing a year that has been free of unscheduled interruptions. Especially we are celebrating the completion of the first year of the new Master of Theology programme, which is ZTU’s first step in the development of postgraduate studies.
Our first group of 21 students have been a joy to work with – courteous, motivated and appreciative. They are meeting the challenge of working more independently and honing the skills that will enable them to do original research.
The special feature of the degree is that it is an MTh in Contextual Theology – Malawi’s first. For most of the students it is something quite new to start thinking of the Malawi context as material with which to do theology. Especially in a situation where Christian theology initially came from outside the country and where the sources of authority were found elsewhere, it takes quite a change of mindset to gain confidence in local sources.
These, however, are the sources we have been mining as students have developed their project work. Here they find many possibilities to carry out original work. Malawi’s environment, culture, history and society include many features that call for theological engagement. The work of this year has been a matter of small beginnings, but it holds promise of rich results to come.