President caps 3 260 at UZ
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday conferred degrees to 3 260 students at the University of Zimbabwe with the institution saying the number of females taking up STEM degree programmes was increasing.
He conferred 2 747 graduands with first degrees, 492 Masters degrees and 21 Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
The ceremony also saw Chief Murinye (Ephias Munodawafa) becoming the first traditional leader to obtain a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University.
The graduands were drawn from nine faculties and the College of Health Sciences.
Among the graduands were 143 medical doctors, 11 dentists, 44 pharmacists, 32 medical laboratory scientists, 21 occupational therapists, 27 physiotherapists, 16 radiologists and 33 biochemists.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, UZ vice chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura said the institution had reviewed its curriculum to promote innovation, application of science, engineering and technology.
“Our focus is to produce graduates with a strong foundation in science, engineering, mathematical sciences and technology and with problem solving and analytical skills,” he said.
“In particular, we resolved to provide training in aeronautical engineering with our inaugural group of 32 students admitted into the programme in February 2017. We have also continued to expand our GIS and Earth Observation Sciences. The motivation for this development is the realisation that geographical sciences are key to human security including disaster and emergency response, crime and terrorism prevention, surveillance of diseases and disease vector outbreaks.”
Prof Nyagura said they had embraced Zim-Asset in its totality and staff members were playing a pivotal role in the implementation of the economic blueprint.
“To this end, as a strategic response to a rapidly increasing student population, we resolved to construct a lecture theatre with a seating capacity of 850 for the auditorium and five seminar rooms with a seating capacity of 300,” he said.
“Our approach is to always strike a balance between quantity and quality. We have resolved to create an environment, which has the capacity to support high quality research, high quality teaching, high quality learning and high quality outreach services.”
On female participation, Prof Nyagura said: “This graduation ceremony is a historic event in the 62-year history of the university crowned by a record statistic of 52 percent female students of the student population of over 17 300.
“It is also clear that there is a significant increase in female participation in most STEM degree programmes. We strongly believe that these female participation rates can grow rapidly if proper intervention is done at the high school level.”
The university yesterday introduced the Vice Chancellor’s Awards for the best graduands in various STEM programmes.
Best students walked away with $1 000 each.
Prof Nyagura said the University’s success depended on the calibre of professors and researchers they hired and retained.
“Currently, the university boasts of 124 professors and 195 senior lecturers all with PhD qualifications, of whom 31 percent are female,” he said.
“Based on our policy of demanding every academic member of staff to acquire a quality PhD qualification, 139 members are at various stages of completing their studies. With these developments, we are now more confident that it is now our time to be among the 10 best universities in Africa.”
Among notable figures that graduated yesterday were: Zimbabwe Republic Police Deputy Commissioner-General Innocent Matibiri (Master of Arts in Philosophy), Caps United president Farai Jere (Bachelor of Accountancy), Zanu-PF Youth League secretary for finance Tongai Kasukuwere (Masters in International Relations), MDC-T officials Thokozoni Khupe (PhD in Social Studies) and Job Sikhala (Bachelor of Laws).
Journalists Sydney Kawadza (Zimpapers) and Everson Mushava (NewsDay) also graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science.