Durban - It was all smiles for students and faculty this week, as an air of excitement settled over the Sportscentre at UKZN’s Westville Campus in Durban, for the university’s first in-person graduation ceremony since 2019 due to Covid-19 health regulations.
UKZN began hosting the graduation from May 4 and will continue until May 21 and will confer 8795 degrees, according to university spokesperson Normah Zondo.
Of these, 6 094 are undergraduates while 2701 are those who obtained postgraduate qualifications, including 495 masters and 213 doctoral graduates.
Zondo said UKZN’s management was especially proud of the 121 summa cum laude and 410 cum laude graduates accepting the degrees this year.
“We are excited that we are going back to in-person graduation ceremonies. A graduation ceremony is a crowning moment in any student's academic life. So we understand the importance that the ceremonies have to our graduands and their families.
“The mood is celebratory as graduands, parents, guardians, relatives and members of the university community gather to celebrate. The university has taken all steps to ensure that those attending the ceremonies wear masks and adhere to social distance and other protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” Zondo told IOL.
Zondo said the rate of women graduates “remains consistently high” at 63.38%.
Shongani Dladla, who graduated cum laude with an honours degree in gender education, said she would continue to learn about her field despite just graduating.
Her research is in response to the rise of gender-based violence cases in learning institutions.
In her research, Dladla found that “although girls in South Africa have better access to a school than their counterparts, they are confronted with high levels of sexual violence and sexual harassment in schools that impede their access to education on equal terms with their male students”.
Her research also found a negative connection between sexual violence and sexting (when people send sexually explicit images over the phone).
“Towards the end, I went through the impact of sexual violence in schools which included HIV acquisition; anxiety and trauma; impacts in education as well as impacts on learners’ self-esteem and wellbeing,” she added.
A young Durban couple, Dale and Simone Debideyal, both graduated cum laude with a postgraduate qualification in education.
Simone said walking up on stage to colllect her award was “the best feeling”.
Lorna Jonathan (65) defied societal conceptions on time and graduated with a PhD in Education on Monday. After pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, Jonathan said she was overwhelmed with emotions when she finally reached the finish line.
“I have been crying non stop; I truly cannot believe it. I am just so grateful for the support my family, husband and sons have shown me. They were so excited when I enrolled for the programme, so I can only imagine how excited they are now.
“I still want to work with children. Either get involved in some NGO or just find a way to help them. Even if I get to help five children before I die, that is good enough for me,” Johnathan said.