Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
A total of 523 Africa University (AU) students from different African countries graduated virtually on Friday last week, as the world continues to adjust to the Covid-19 induced regulations.
The United-Methodist run institution’s 26th graduation ceremony came as most universities in the country have been holding virtual graduation ceremonies to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection.
AU has students in about 23 African countries, most of whom completed their programmes online following the lockdown measures introduced in March that resulted in countries closing their borders.
The university has a current enrolment of over 3 000 students.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony on Friday last week, AU Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa said the institution had adapted to the unexpected changes brought in by the pandemic strategically.
“In all these decisions and actions, we were driven by the strong desire to ensure that our students’ education would not be disrupted,” he said.
“We know that your academic journey was not easy, it involved negotiating many challenges and trials, especially when we consider the changes that had to be made in your mode of learning and now in the mode of your graduation as we responded to the impact of Covid-19.
Your graduation is particularly special and memorable as it is the first virtual graduation in the history of our university.”
Prof Furusa urged graduates to embrace the new world thrust upon them by the pandemic and use the knowledge they gained to tackle new challenges.
He said AU was harnessing data to improve overall operations and performance of the university to make a meaningful contribution to the industrialisation and modernisation of Africa through innovative research, technological solutions and enterprise development in all areas of specialisation.
Africa University this year launched its U Safe hand sanitiser in response to the call by Government for tertiary institutions to play a role in filling the gap in the supply of Personal Protective Equipment.
Prof Furusa said this and other innovations undertaken by the students and staff at AU was part of the new Education 5.0 model.
“Going forward, we will continue to bring on board programmes that we believe will drive the region and the continent’s industrialisation and modernisation initiative and prepare our graduates for the future with the demands of innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.
Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science, Innovation and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira said Government was designing the future by providing an education system that is fit for purpose to develop Africa and the world through modernisation and development.
“We are cultivating a spirit of possibility, a spirit of positive action for progress using appropriate higher and tertiary design and configuration, he said. This is why we have redesigned our higher education from Education 3.0 to Education 5.0 that adds innovation and industrialisation to its components. We are designing a future.”
Prof Murwira encouraged graduatess to embrace the design language.
“The future we want is designed in our colleges and universities,” he said. “We have designed an education system so that it produces knowledge and skills, which must in turn do two things: support existing industries and create new industries.
“We are determined to make sure there is never a mismatch between the education that we give and the environment and the life and the tasks that are required in life. Knowledge and skills bring understanding, but remember any fool can know, the issue is to understand.