The National University of Lesotho (NUL), for the first time, held a virtual graduation ceremony on the 26th September, 2020 for the 45th Convocation for the Award of Certificates, Diplomas and Conferment of Degrees.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NUL held an online ceremony which was transmitted in three ways: online streaming via social media channels (NUL FaceBook page, NUL YouTube Channel and NUL website), television and radio broadcast.
When welcoming the convocation, the Chairman of the 14th NUL Council, Advocate Kuena Mophethe, indicated that this year’s ceremony was held in an unusual way in order to limit the exposure of the virus, to comply with the national and World Health Organisation COVID-19 regulations.
“The fact that the ceremony is held virtually does not mean it is in any way less significant. Rather, the ceremony is a milestone which shall be held memorable to the graduating students and their families, the University community and Basotho at large”, she indicated.
Advocate Kuena congratulated the University professors and lecturers for their tireless effort in equipping the students with knowledge.
“To you graduands, always bear in mind that a graduation marks the beginning of a new exciting journey that will be filled with so many opportunities, challenges, tears and jubilations and graduands are equipped for that journey. Go out there and serve with purpose and dignity”, she added.
On behalf of students, Mr Khereng Nelson Khereng indicated that graduation is a very significant achievement and theirs comes at a time when the world is at a standstill due to the Corona Virus pandemic.
“Even if we cannot all gather in one place in person, a graduation ceremony does not just celebrate one moment in time, it is the combination of the years of learning, about the world and about self”, Mr Khereng emphasised.
Mr. Khereng further motivated his fellow graduands not to let the absence of a physical- crowded ceremony take anything away from what their graduation signifies
“Therefore, let’s embrace the glory of our achievement with family and friends. Congratulations Class of 2019/2020, we made it”, Khereng declared.
In this year’s graduation, a total of 2,060 students graduated. The ceremony entailed the awarding of Certificates and Diplomas as well as the conferment of both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
While addressing the convocation, NUL Vice-Chancellor, Associate Professor Kananelo Mosito, indicated that amongst the graduands, the University conferred at least one Cabinet Minister who was graduating with a Master of Arts in Development Studies: Honourable Selibe Ernest Mochoboroane.
“This Minister has had to further his academic studies because he must have realized that, education is the foundation of our society. It helps to stimulate our minds and mould inquisitive minds into intellectuals”, Prof. Mosito outlined.
He therefore invited all Members of Parliament, the Judiciary and the Cabinet to emulate this Minister since education is self-empowerment. He further emphasised that education helps one realise one’s potential and qualities as a human being.
To the graduands, Prof. Mosito stated that this virtual graduation ceremony is meant to acknowledge the great work they have done, to honour them with warm congratulations, and to send them on their way to the next steps in life.
He highlighted that the graduands are now starting with their way to the next steps in their lives and the National University of Lesotho community wishes them blessings and good wishes during their journey.
Prof. Mosito used the wise words of George Bernard Shaw. Shaw writes that, “the people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, they make them”.
“Please bear in mind that, whilst a university qualification is a valuable asset, the rapidly changing world that we live in requires us to constantly retrain ourselves to satisfy our life and work ambitions”, the Vice Chancellor advised.
The Vice Chancellor was happy to announce that there has been the restructuring of the academic programmes with a view to transitioning to the fully-fledged semesterisation mode throughout the University.
He said that the University will continue working hard in growing the doctoral Staff in line with the policy of improving the international visibility and ranking of the University, policy stipulated in the Strategic plan of the University.
Prof. Mosito concluded his remarks by pleading to the government to continue with financial support the University so that the institution can move forward and improve among others, infrastructure development.
Addressing the Virtual Congregation, His Majesty and Chancellor King Letsie III motivated and encouraged the graduands that irrespective of this considerable change and unprecedented challenges, they must know that they are graduating.
“You may be disappointed that you are missing out on the pomp and ceremony of a live graduation of past years, but the most important this is that you are graduating today, though in this new virtual way”, said the Chancellor.
The King further mentioned that circumstances can change due to the global pandemic but what remains unchanged is that during graduands time at the university, they gained valuable knowledge and their intellect has been enhanced.
His Majesty King Letsie III highlighted that after the emergence of this global pandemic, nobody knew what to do next. Nevertheless, the education sector had to embark and engage into the online teaching and learning. He further outlined that considering our infrastructure, some of graduands had to face some obstacles when learning online but persevered.
His Majesty congratulated the university management for ensuring that teaching and learning continued to take place even during the hard times of global pandemic, Corona Virus.
“We are grateful for Econet Lesotho and Vodacom Lesotho for partnering with the university to ensure that staff and students could do their work in an affordable manner”, His Majesty acknowledged.
He further accredited, recognised and applauded the efforts of the Faculty of Health Science under the Department of Nursing for building a relationship with Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital for capaciting the nurses with some skills on inter-professional education for HIV (Stripe HIV).
His Majesty and Chancellor applauded the university through its faculty of Law for offering training to the Police Officers in Cyber Law in collaboration with the French Embassy in Pretoria, and the Faculty of Social Sciences for introducing a course in Entrepreurship.
“These endeavours are evidence that the university is conscious that things can no longer continue to be done the way they used to be done”, His Majesty emphasised.
He observed that almost all the faculties and the Institute of Extra-Mural Studies (IEMS) have forged strategic partnerships with other institutions and organisations in order to gain and share knowledge, skills and resources in their fields of study.
“It is gratifying to note that in spite of the challenges brought about by the lack of adequate resources to set up and maintain the required laboratory facilities and engage the best qualified lecturers, our University has not stopped providing quality education to our students.
In concluding, His Majesty and Chancellor congratulated the 2020 graduands and wished them the very best in their new journey, as they join the world of work.
The ceremony took form of two segments starting with formal speeches quoted above. To make the day more memorable to graduands, Deans of Faculties and Director of IEMS read out names of all graduands and these were also shared digitally. Normally, only the names of postgraduate students are read by the Deans.