Why Maria Won't Stop Smiling. By Nation Correspondent

Image taken from The Nation

For many young Malawians, higher education is a dream that never comes true largely due to limited bed space in public universities and inability for the needy to pay fees.

This is the story of Maria Kondowe, 28, from Lukhwawa Village Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwasisya in Nkhata Bay.

Until six months ago, Maria had completely given up on her dream to step in university corridors.

Her heartbreak started when she got selected to a community day secondary school (CDSS). In Malawi, CDSSs often lack basic resources, including functional libraries and laboratories. Also, many of the teachers lack requisite training having been upgraded from primary schools.

It was not surprising, therefore, that Maria and many other students from Zolozolo CDSS could not make it to any of the country’s public universities.

Further attempts to acquire tertiary qualifications only left her further disappointed.

“I applied for nursing school and was left out. I tried teaching, I was not selected either. What really gutted me was when I applied to become a mere hospital attendant and was never picked,” she recounts.

Frustrated, Maria married and went on to work in maize fields of her well-off neighbours – with all her dreams of ever becoming a n