Scholarship to save lives

4th October 2021

News, Student news, Home Feed

A need for a better understanding of public policy to complement his legal training has led Malawian student Lt Col Gilbert Mittawa to Wadham as our 2021 Beit Scholar.

  • Gilbert Mittawa

We need to understand the key underlying issues which can lead to conflict. Public policy which addresses basic needs such as food, security and healthcare is important. I believe that this scholarship will be saving lives.

Lt Col Gilbert Mittawa

As Deputy Chief of Legal Service for the Malawi Defence Force, Gilbert advises the MDF High Command and Ministry of Defence personnel on both operational and administrative law.

After completing military training in Malawi as a regular officer, Gilbert went to Malawi Law School and has been a practising lawyer since 2013. He advises MDF in the field of armed conflict, public international law and humanitarian law. 

In partnership with the Blavatnik School of Government and Wadham College, the Beit Trust offered Gilbert a coveted scholarship on the Master in Public Policy (MPP) programme, an intensive one-year postgraduate degree for current and future leaders. 

“In my work I provide advice on law and policy but I have had no formal public policy training. I want to understand public policy and have practical experience of it so that when I go back to Malawi I can blend law and policy and help provide the tools necessary for maintaining peace and security nationally and internationally,” he said.

Malawi has remained a peaceful country since independence in 1964 explains Gilbert. However the situation in other African states such as the Democratic Republic of Congo is more fluid and Gilbert has been actively involved in armed conflict there. 

“The situation in DRC requires interventions beyond the use of force and this is where the understanding of public policy will come in handy,” he said. “We need to understand the key underlying issues which can lead to conflict. Public policy which addresses basic needs such as food, security and healthcare is important. I believe that this scholarship will be saving lives.” 

The Beit Trust is an independent charity supporting people and communities in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. In 2021, the Trust awarded 18 postgraduate scholarships at British and South African universities, by means of generous academic partnerships with leading institutions. Oxford is among seven Beit Trust partner universities in the UK, and the Wadham Blavatnik scholarship is part funded by Wadham alumni. 

Dr Tom Simpson, Senior Research Fellow at Wadham College, and Associate Professor in Philosophy and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government  commented: “The Beit scholarship is essential for bringing widely varying viewpoints and experience into Oxford. I very much look forward to the contributions that Lt Col Mittawa will make while here, and the impact he will have on good policy-making in Malawi in future.”

Thanking his funders, Gilbert comments: “It would be impossible for me to be here without the Beit Scholarship and I am so grateful to the Beit Trust, The Blavatnik School and Wadham College.”