Nqobile Tshili Bulawayo Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday capped 1 531 graduates at Lupane State University (LSU) in Matabeleland North Province where the institution commended his leadership in the country’s Covid-19 management system.
The university was holding its 12th graduation ceremony which saw a handful of graduates attending the physical event while others followed the proceedings virtually.
At least 50 percent of the graduates were female and the university said it was committed to contributing skilled human capital for national development.
The university has since through its partnership with the Zimbabwe Gender Commission developed a gender equality monitoring and evaluation system which it recommended Government to adopt. It was also recently granted a Campus Radio Licence which it said would be used for strengthening the communication system that would promote cultural values, community development as well as cultivating patriotism among students and staff.
Delivering his keynote address, LSU Vice Chancellor Professor Pardon Kuipa challenged graduates to put to practice the knowledge they received from the institution to contribute to socio-economic development.
He commended President Mnangagwa’s leadership especially regarding how the country has handled the Covid-19 pandemic. He said through the President’s astute leadership universities managed to continue teaching despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Prof Kuipa praised those graduating and the teaching staff for remaining resolute after their studies were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I would like to congratulate you, your Excellency, for the accolades the country continues to receive from its peers and stakeholders. I have in mind Zimbabwe’s leadership in immunisation in the African region and globally. Zimbabwe was one of the first countries in Africa to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations and today the country has an enviable vaccine procurement programme which is rated amongst the best in the world. Our country is currently ranked 7th in Africa in terms of the percentage of citizens that have been vaccinated,” said Prof Kuipa.
“Additionally, Zimbabwe was the third country in the world to launch the Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine as part of its routine immunisation programme for children. Thank you, your Excellency and Chancellor, for these milestone achievements. Your Excellency and Chancellor, we gather here today to honour our newly minted graduates in these extraordinary Covid-19 circumstances. A few representative graduates were invited to be here in person but the majority of our graduates are graduating from the comfort of their homes.”
He said 590 students graduated with undergraduate degrees, 796 with post graduate degrees from the faculties of Agricultural Sciences, Commerce and Humanities and Social Science.
Prof Kuipa said an additional 145 graduated with various diplomas offered at the institution.
“Graduands, today you are being formally released into the world. It is important that you appreciate that every ending has a new beginning and that the knowledge, skills and attitudes that you have acquired from your lecturers and mentors are sufficient for you to make a positive impact on your families and the community,” said Prof Kuipa.
“Your biggest successes will come when you venture into those areas that are outside your comfort zones. Go out and add value to whatever you do and make yourself indispensable in society.”
He said the university has continued to employ blended learning as face-to-face lectures were minimised to at least two weeks and the rest of the semester was conducted virtually.
Prof Kuipa appealed to Government to allocate the university funds to enable the institution to complete the construction of some infrastructure and enable its full relocation to the provincial capital in Lupane.
“The university has an enrolment of 5211 students with a staff complement of 353. Of these numbers, 1700 students and 84 staff members are still studying and working in Bulawayo respectively. We therefore, appeal to Government to continue supporting the university so that relocation of everyone from Bulawayo becomes a reality in the shortest time possible,” said Prof Kuipa.
He said the university is now involved in poultry, fish, goat and horticulture production.
Prof Kuipa said the university is working with communities on climate proofed agriculture programmes.
“The Department of Crop Science also assisted new farmers with planning and installing of drip irrigation installation at Sikhethimpilo project located at Maphisa Centre in Matobo District of Matabeleland South Province. Drip irrigation was also installed at Nkenyane 27km from Bulawayo, along the Nkayi Road. In addition, the department supported a project aimed at providing access to both potable and agricultural water for the farmers in Chibondo village, Manjolo, Binga District,” said Prof Kuipa.