In August 1999, Lakeland College, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the government of the African country of Malawi began an exciting partnership to train teachers for that impoverished country.
Five scholarship students arrived in Wisconsin that August to begin a three-year, year-round course of study leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. Five additional Malawi students arrived in August 2000, and a third group of five arrived in August 2001, continuing a trend that lasts to today. Each year, as five Malawi students graduate from Lakeland and return home to continue their careers as teachers, five new Malawi students arrive on campus and begin their education. From August 2001 onward, there have always been fifteen Malawi students studying at Lakeland College.
Lakeland initiated this program to train teachers for Malawi for only two reasons: it was the right thing to do, and training teachers is one of the things Lakeland does best.
The selection process is rigorous and the competition for these scholarships has been tremendous, even though they are only available to Malawi high school graduates who have already demonstrated a desire to be teachers. In 1999, there were 345 applicants vying for the five awards. In 2000, the number of applicants rose to 1400, and since 2001, when some additional restrictions were placed on the application process, approximately 300 prospective students apply for the five awards each year.
The USAID mission in Lilongwe, Malawi, advertises the Lakeland College scholarships to schools throughout Malawi each year, then processes the initial set of applications. Approximately 100 of the initial candidates are then asked to complete a second, more comprehensive application form and to secure letters of recommendation. From this group, 20 - 30 of the candidates are selected for personal interviews with a committee of officials from USAID, the U.S. Embassy, and the Malawi Government. These candidates must also complete an English language examination and write an essay. Approximately 10 - 15 candidates are then chosen as finalists and their application materials are sent to Lakeland College in Wisconsin, where a committee of professors chooses the five students who will receive the Lakeland scholarships.