PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday capped 2 528 graduates at the University of Science and Technology (nust) where he launched the US$2 000 Chancellor’s prize to be given to outstanding science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates.
The institution’s 26th graduation ceremony was blended and only those graduating with first class degrees attended while the rest of the graduands participated virtually and followed proceedings on ZBC TV.
nust like every academic institution conducted the blended ceremony in line with Covid-19 measures, World Health Organisation guidelines and Government regulations.
Of the total capped, 1 139 graduates, who constituted 45 percent, were females and 1 389 were male.
The President, who is also the Chancellor of all State universities, conferred degrees and awards to 194 graduates from nust affiliate institutions which include Gwanda State University and the Isago University in Botswana.
In his address, nust Vice Chancellor Professor Mqhele Dlodlo said the Class of 2020 had done well in completing studies despite challenges brought by Covid-19.
The pandemic gave nust a chance to showcase its innovation which resulted in the creation of an online teaching course to empower lecturers and teachers in Zimbabwe and beyond.
The course, iStudyXR Online Teaching, was made for educators and it incorporates both technical and tutorial aspects of online teaching.
So far, it has attracted participants from universities, teachers’ colleges, agricultural colleges, polytechnics from within the country, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Malawi.
“The year 2020 shifted the digital revolution of every industry, the education sector included, from important to essential within a few months as the coronavirus pandemic snaked its way across the world. The group of 2020 graduands grabbed the bull by its horns and continued with their studies through virtual learning in the emerging new normal,” said Prof Dlodlo.
“Today, they are graduating like no other class in the history of NUST — virtually as well as face-to-face. This year we are graduating a total of 2 528 graduands, including two PHDs and four MPhils,” he added.
“His Excellency and Chancellor, who is also a NUST Alumnus, has lived up to his pledge to the Alumni Association by donating US$2 000 to the best male and female student in equitable measure in a faculty at this year’s and future graduations.
“The chancellor’s prize motivates the NUST community to continue leading in human capital development for industrial and socio-economic transformation with a bias towards science, technology engineering and mathematics,” added Prof Dlodlo.
He said the transformation of the education curriculum at NUST was already bearing fruits as students designed a platform for small scale farmers to trade virtually as a Covid-19 response.
“In order to support steps towards Vision 2030, nust has started with in-house developments of certified hand sanitisers, highly effective disinfectants soaps and detergents. We have managed to supply enough products for the whole south-west part of the country with anti Covid-19 products,” he said.
“With such gains we are eagerly moving to complete the long-standing contracts that left buildings unfinished for nearly 20 years in some cases. As we end each unproductive contract, we will implement our own in-house plan to complete the buildings much more affordably ”
Prof Dlodlo said nust was handing over 1 000 litres of hand sanitisers, masks and other personal protective equipment which are produced at nust to be given to any public institution chosen by President Mnangagwa.
The Chancellor said the package will be handed over to Khami Prison and Bulawayo Prisons, where he is a former inmate.
The two prisons recently made headlines for being Covid-19 hotspots in Bulawayo, where more than 25 prison guards and 76 inmates tested positive.