On Friday, 18 September 2020, the University of Venda graduates celebrated the major milestone achievement through the first ever online graduation ceremony. Like other institutions of higher learning within and beyond South Africa, the University could not have the traditional ceremony due to COVID 19 pandemic. The Microsoft teams, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms hosted the virtual graduation with the aim of giving graduates the sense of accomplishment and joy.
“You are the first group of graduates that I have the honour and privilege of conferring degrees upon and I thought it is appropriate to share a few thoughts with you. I hope we can stay in touch in future, perhaps through the alumni office,” said Advocate Mojankunyane Gumbi, who is the first female Chancellor in the history of the University of Venda (UNIVEN). Advocate Gumbi said these words during the first ever University’s Virtual Graduation Ceremony.
During the 2020 Virtual Graduation Ceremony, UNIVEN conferred 3068 qualifications. Out of 3068 graduates, 44 of them received Doctoral Degrees. Most graduates for the class of 2020 graduation were female (59.2%), compared to their male counterparts (40.8%).
UNIVEN Chancellor Adv. Mojankunyane Gumbi
In her Congratulatory Message to the graduating class of 2020, Advocate Gumbi expressed that, this graduation happens under different conditions, “forced upon us by the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.” She said that, this pandemic has laid bare the extent of inequality in our country and we know that a system that allows such fantastic wealth to live side by side with abject poverty is unsustainable. “At some stage an eruption is bound to happen.”
She encouraged graduates and the University community at large to start thinking of growing vegetables, others breeding chickens, others pigs, eggs, and so on. “Within no time we would have a thriving market in every village or town. Let the big supermarkets continue to cater for those who can afford both their prices and the travel costs to their stores. What we will be doing is to start a new way of food production and distribution; a way that responds to our unique needs and circumstances. UNIVEN can be a major resource to draw upon as we develop this programme countrywide.
She continued her talk by mentioning that it would be amiss of her if she did not raise concern about the horrific levels of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in our society. Advocate Gumbi said UNIVEN has not escaped this horror either. She said Gender Based Violence has to stop because it does not reflect who we are as conscious, proud people. Amongst other things, Advocate Gumbi spoke about technology where she encouraged students and graduates to start thinking about developing their own versions of Zoom or Microsoft meeting applications.
She concluded her talk by congratulating graduates and told them to take a moment and imagine what we could do if we decided that our historic mission is not to be intermediaries, but to be true agents of transformation.
In his Welcome Address, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni, said “Graduation is a milestone event, an occasion for family celebration, representing the culmination of many years of hard work and sacrifice. Therefore, it is the norm at this University, “we would have loved to celebrate this special day with you in person, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, like many universities here in South Africa and abroad, our Senate took a decision to host the 2020 graduation ceremony virtually in accordance with our government regulations.”
Dr Nthambeleni highlighted that the pandemic had imposed on us a new ‘normal’ which required us to quickly and in a very short space of time embrace and adopt new ways of teaching, learning and attend office work. He said pursuant to the declaration of the national state of disaster and a nation-wide lockdown, UNIVEN Senate resolved to rescue the 2020 academic year and put plans to ensure that no student is left behind as far as accessing teaching and learning is concerned.
“I am pleased to report that just a few days ago we had successfully completed the first semester examinations and we are on course to complete the second semester by the end February 2021.”
Dr Nthambeleni said that, University staff with doctoral qualifications has increased to 41% which is above the national average of 37% in the sector. He said UNIVEN looks forward to maximizing this advantage by producing more research articles in high impact journals and providing more supervisory capacity and training to our next generation of researchers.
“The number of our National Research Foundation rated researchers continues to grow. These rated researchers contribute significantly to the research outputs of the University. Our research output per academic staff member has also increased over the past years.” As he concluded his talk, Dr Nthambeleni told graduates that the University is confident that as they embark on their journey of life, they are fully equipped academically to cope with the demands of the modern challenging world that they are about to enter. He congratulated them and wished them well in their future endeavors.
Department of Communications & Marketing
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525
Date: 18 September 2020