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Use qualifications to rebuild what Covid-19 has destroyed, Rhodes vice-chancellor tells graduates

Published Apr 7, 2022

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Pretoria – Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sizwe Mabizela has challenged the thousands of graduands being capped in the ongoing six-series graduation ceremony to use their qualifications to rebuild from the damage caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

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“Dear graduands, you have received an excellent education from one of the finest universities in the world. With your Rhodes University education, you can embrace the future with utmost confidence, courage and conviction. Always remember that the Rhodes University education you have received is not for your sole or private benefit,” Mabizela told the graduands at the iconic institution in Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape.

He appealed to the graduands to use their academic achievements to advance the greater common good.

“As you are aware, the past two years have been the most difficult in living memory. The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly altered our world as we knew it. Many people have lost their lives; many have lost their livelihoods and even more have lost hope,” Mabizela said at the prestigious ceremony.

“Even as we celebrate your tremendous achievements this morning, we mourn the many lives that have been lost over the past two years, especially those of our students and staff. Our hearts go out to the families of our students who passed on in the course of their studies and whose graduation this would have been.”

The vice-chancellor paid tribute to healthcare workers and all those who have been on the frontline of South Africa’s battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our nation and humanity look to you, graduates of this distinctive university, to play your part in shaping a better, a more just, a more humane, a more equitable, a more inclusive and a more sustainable future,” Mabizela said.

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“Your achievements as a Rhodes University graduate afford you an opportunity to contribute to rebuilding what Covid-19 has damaged, what moral and political decay all over the globe have contaminated, and what economic and social inequality have destroyed.

“Your graduation this morning affords us an opportunity to renew our social compact for human development and our commitment to social, economic and political advancement for all.”

In the six graduation ceremonies of 2022, a total of 2 085 students will receive their degrees, diplomas and certificates. Of these, 1 231 (or 59 percent) are undergraduate Bachelor’s degrees and 854 (or 41percent) are postgraduate degrees, postgraduate diplomas and postgraduate certificates.

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Of the 854 postgraduate students, 100 will receive their Master’s and 34, Doctoral degrees. The Makhanda-based institution of higher education also has another graduation ceremony scheduled for October, which is exclusively for Master’s and doctoral graduates.

Sixty-four percent of the graduating students this year are women students, and 13 percent are international students.

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