The Ministry of Education through the State Department for University Education and Research has lauded Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) for successfully staging a second virtual graduation ceremony under the most stringent of COVID-19 protocols.
The institution’s 36th Graduation Ceremony, held on Friday, 9th April, 2021, is the second to go virtual, coming just three months after the inaugural virtual graduation held on 18th December, 2020.
In what may be the reality for the unforeseeable future as the pandemic persists, a total of 4,332 candidates were awarded diplomas and conferred degrees at the graduation.
The graduation is the first to be held in the country in the wake of new COVID-19 containment measures stipulated by the President on March 26th, 2021, in his 15th address on the Coronavirus pandemic.
Among the raft of measures laid out by the head of state included, suspension of all physical learning, and a directive that all physical meetings and events be capped at fifteen (15) persons.
Speaking at a meeting after the graduation, Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education and Research, Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi, commended the University for going over and above to pull off the graduation, while strictly adhering to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 protocols.
“I am alive to the fact that this graduation has been a product of great sacrifice and innovative thinking, geared at sustaining the momentum of academic excellence. This is a great example you’ve set, and I sincerely congratulate the University for doing everything possible to ensure students who are due for graduation are not disenfranchised, and that the academic wheels continue to spin, the pandemic notwithstanding,” he opined.
Amb. Nabukwesi further voiced his confidence in the competence of JKUAT graduates, urging the University not to relent on its focus on Science and Technology.
“This University tops the institutions that the Government of Kenya relies on for Science and Technology. Thanks for your fidelity to the focus on research, innovation and technology transfer. The State Department for University Education and Research is your reliable partner in this regard, and we pledge our full support.
To begin with, we have already kick-started a process of offering financial support to the University-owned JKUAT Enterprises to catapult it to greater heights,” he pledged.
On collaborations and diversification of funding sources for the University, the PS challenged the University to leverage on its strong leadership to source partners and strengthen the University’s income-generating units.
“This University is lucky to have a very strong leadership. The Council is solid, the Management is solid, and both the Chancellor, Chair of Council, and the Vice Chancellor are agile and well networked. I urge you to tap into this and exploit it to the maximum,” he implored.
In his parting shot to the PS, JKUAT Chancellor, Prof. Mathu Ndung’u urged the State Department to continue the close partnership with the University, and help fast-track some of the great innovations and research outputs from JKUAT.
On her part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi attributed the success of the second virtual graduation to collaborative team work spearheaded by the Academic Division and the Corporate Communications Office.
“Initially, we had planned a repeat of the first virtual graduation, where we had our PhD graduands present at the graduation square, with the total number of persons at the ceremony capped at 200. However, following the President 15th address, and with just nine (9) days to go, we had to rethink very fast to ensure the graduation was not called off…” Prof. Ngumi explained.
“I thank God it has worked out beautifully, and that we managed to stick to the strict protocols. I sincerely thank the Academic Division, the Corporate Communications Office, and all staff and students, for working round the clock to make this the success it has been. We are already receiving calls and messages of good feedback,” she concluded.
To abide by the government directive of no more than 15 persons at an event, all the Deans of various schools were pre-recorded as they called out names of graduands. The academic procession was consequently leaned to a record 13 persons.
At the same time, graduates from the College of Health Sciences who are mandated by law to take their Hippocratic oaths during graduation, had the same pre-recorded. Further, all speeches at the ceremony, save for the Chancellor’s and the PS, were pre-recorded.
Additionally, the graduates had access to the graduation proceedings via Microsoft’s videoconferencing platform, Microsoft Teams.
The virtual graduation saw a record cumulative following of over forty thousand (40,000) people across social media platforms, in addition to the KTN Home television platform, which has millions of viewers across the country.