This year’s early winter hurled in an exciting end for the students of the University of Namibia, as thousands of them gathered online to celebrate their hard work and a new lease on life.
Patently, graduation is a highly anticipated occasion, but unlike many other graduation ceremonies before the class of 2020, this year’s graduation carried a unique vitality, to some hitherto unseen.
The character of the class of 2020 ensued something profound but was best said by UNAM Chancellor, H.E. Dr Nangolo Mbumba, during the delivery of his address. “I have to acknowledge that 2020 was a particularly difficult year. I cannot begin to imagine how you managed to complete your academic studies let alone conduct research and submit a project or a dissertation,” remarked a proud chancellor.
UNAM Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kenneth Matengu, echoed the Chancellor’s sentiments.
“Most students overcame great personal difficulties to graduate, many of them are still recovering from swollen feet as they walked great distances to access the internet or attend class. No two stories are the same, however, they all mirror persistence and hard work” emphasized Prof. Matengu.
His remarks follow a year after the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, which shook the very foundation of the University of Namibia’s services and prompted major change in long-held beliefs about learning, teaching and assessment as Namibia and the world hurried to embrace online technology.
Despite insurmountable odds, the University of Namibia graduated 4,839 students, a total of 16 PhDs in areas of critical importance to national development, and 44 medical doctors, respectively.
Despite it being a second time to host a virtual graduation, students, though separated by space, eagerly awaited the occasion to excite a palpable triumph over their challenges.
The students had something in common with faculty members, as indicated by Hon. Dr Itah Kandjii–Murangi, Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, when she congratulated UNAM staff for yet another season of hard work and thought leadership, during her keynote address.
“I have observed how UNAM last year, rolled out online learning in a matter of days after the State of Emergency was declared. What you did was remarkable, and I thank all the academics, the administrators and members of management for their foresight and selfless sacrifice during a notably difficult year” expressed the Minster.
Under the same veil of achievement, the University surpassed its targets for securing external grants by garnering 72 grants with a combined total value of N$59, 6 million. In addition, it recorded a 42% increase in Scopus Indexed publications for the year 2020 and launched a molecular diagnostic lab at the School of Medicine to perform COVID-19 PCR testing, a project generously funded by Debmarine Namibia.