Hackathon students get awards

Chakwera

Plan International Malawi has awarded 20 students from fivepublic universities in Malawi who participated in the 2022 UNESCO-India-Africa Hackathon at a ceremony held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Monday.

The UNESCO-India-Africa Hackathon is an annual event that brings together students, educators, teachers and research experts from India and its African partners to tackle common challenges faced by the 22 participating countries whose teams are provided with problem statements to develop innovative solutions.

First Lady Madame Monica Chakwera presented the awards to the 20 students, 12 of whom are female. 

Sixteen of the students received a K200,000 cheque each while four, whose teams emerged winners out of the participating teams, received K250, 000 each.

One of the winning teams' representative, Milca Kwenda, a fifth year Biomedical Engineering student at Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), appealed to government to use the innovations for the benefit of the country.

Kwenda, whose team focused on data collection analysis and visualisation, developed a software application that can be used to allocate resources to different areas based on population and geographical data.

The innovation can help officials to expedite some decision making and ensure objective resource allocation.

Madame Chakwera described the awards as a recognition and acknowledgement of the students’ success whose outcomes, if properly utilised, would have a positive bearing on Malawi 2063, especially on the industrialisation pillar.

“For us to industrialise, we need research, science and technology more than ever because it is only then that we can become productive, innovative and highly competitive at both regional and global levels.

“In the modern world, universities are expected to provide solutions to problems at country, regional and global levels. The Hackathon approach seems to be the easiest way to do it,” she said.

The First Lady said the students have shown big potential and if well engaged, they can enormously contribute to the country’s development hence important to keep engaging them.

Deputy Minister of Education, who accompanied the students to India in November this year, Monica Chang’anamunohailed the students for participating in the event saying their innovations will not go unnoticed.

“We do not want these innovations to slip away from our hands but to use them because they are solutions to the problems faced locally.

“The main themes for this year’s event were health and hygiene, agriculture, water and sanitation, energy and education. We need to explore more about how to use them,” she said.

Plan International Malawi Country Director, Phoebe Kasoga emphasised on the need to put more effort in promoting girls in science.

She appealed to girls to continue to be resilient and develop ideas.

A total of 100 teams participated and 20 teams won out of which four winning teams had a Malawian representative.