Pres­i­dent caps 3 260 at UZ

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Felex Share Se­nior Re­porter

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.

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