PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday capped 503 Lupane State University students who graduated in different disciplines during the institution’s 6th graduation ceremony. The President, before the graduation ceremony, installed Professor Pardon Kusaziwa Kuipa as the institution’s substantive Vice Chancellor. Of the 503 graduands, 93 were from the faculty of Agricultural Sciences, 304 from Humanities and Social Sciences and 106 from Commerce. From the total, 23 graduated with Masters of Social Science in Development Studies and one Master of Philosophy in Agriculture.
Prof Kuipa in his address praised President Mugabe for establishing the Ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage held by Cde Abednigo Ncube. He also hailed the President and government for coming up with the economic blueprint, Zim- Asset saying the university has made huge strides in fulfilling the objectives of Zim-Asset.
“Lupane State University’s primary mandate is the development and promotion of agriculture in semi-arid regions. The University has also been mandated to venture into tourism and hospitality, wildlife management, extraction of natural resources and promotion of the minority languages,” said Prof Kuipa.
“We’re delighted to say that the University has already made huge strides towards fulfilling the government’s economic blueprint. We’ve for example on offer programmes in Applied Language Studies, Development Studies and Monitoring and Evaluation that we’re certain can contribute to the growth of the new ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage and promotion of its vision and mission.
“We hope to work together with the new ministry to create new programmes that will train our youths to utilise their artistic talent as well as work with communities in Matabeleland North province to express and promote their cultures.”
Prof Kuipa said the institution believes that cultural industries have the potential to greatly reduce unemployment and improve livelihoods of the marginalised, the poor, and the vulnerable. “We hope to interest our academics to research best ways in which our traditions, values and culture can be managed and marketed for community development,” he said.
“In the near future the university will commission a degree programme in anthropology so that we begin to teach, learn and research the every day practices as well as the more dramatic rituals, ceremonies and processes that define Zimbabweans as a people.”
Prof Kuipa said the degree programme will enable future students to gain a deep understanding of, “our cultural and ethnic differences and learn how our people’s perspectives, beliefs and practices, fit into the wider social, political and economic context. “ He said the institution was keen to work with the government in finding creative ways of pulling young people into the agricultural sector.
‘Climate change has dictated that we harness the current and emerging tools of agriculture to feed our nation. We believe that advances in research by our academic staff members as well as adaptation of new technologies to our local situation by our technologists have the potential to provide a safe and sustainable food source for our country,” said Prof Kuipa.
He said the university intends to introduce new degrees in Agribusiness, Horticulture and Agricultural Engineering to further expand access to agricultural programmes.
Prof Kuipa said the university would commission new programmes that teach and research on the best ways to restore, conserve and sustainably harvest the country’s forests that are presently under siege. He said the university has this year engaged in a number of partnerships in order to nurture research that addresses societal problems.
Prof Kuipa said the faculty of Agricultural Sciences recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dabane Trust to assist small holder farmers in Matabeleland region with the installation of drip irrigation systems. The faculty of commerce, Prof Kuipa said, has been incorporated as a partner by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in its ongoing Teacher Capacity Building Programme.
He said the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences through its department of Geography and Population Studies partnered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in coming with a Polling Station Specific Voters’ Register as part of the Voter Registration Exercise for the Nkulumane National Assembly constituency by-election.
Prof Kuipa appealed to the government and well wishers for financial support to construct more student hostels and staff accommodation. “We’re particularly elated by the recent successful negotiations between our parent ministry and Treasury, to include infrastructure bonds as part of the national budget. We believe this exciting development will accelerate construction of hostels, staff accommodation and lecture halls across all our tertiary and higher education institutions,” he said.
Meanwhile, in his acceptance speech, Prof Kuipa paid tribute to the late acting Vice Chancellor Dr MacLean Bhala and his team for their contribution to the growth of LSU having spearheaded the growth of the institution from 37 students in 2007 to the present 2,929. He said the university recently crafted a new strategic plan for 2016-2020 that will guide the operation, growth and development of the institution.