WELCOME AND APPRECIATION
I take this opportunity to welcome you all to the 24th Graduation Ceremony (and the 3rd KIU Virtual ceremony for that matter) held on Saturday 20th November 2021. We are indeed thankful to the Almighty God for making this possible under the sustained Covid-19 Pandemic challenges.
Let me also deliver the sincere apologies of the Chancellor, Prof Mahmood Mamdani, who for unavoidable reasons is unable to preside over this ceremony. He has delegated me as the Vice-Chancellor, to preside over and fulfill the statutory requirements, as provided for in the University Charter (2009), Article 41, clause 2(e), that states, “in the absence of the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor shall preside over ceremonial assemblies and confer degrees and other academic titles and distinctions of the University Charter”.
I thank the Chancellor for his continuous support and guidance in his oversight functions to the University. He has advised that “it is worthwhile for graduands and all our participants in today’s ceremony to reflect on the effects of the never-ending pandemic and plan effective strategies on how to deal with this protracted crisis as part of a larger community”.
I warmly welcome our Chief Guest and thank him for accepting to officiate at this graduation ceremony despite his busy schedule. I also take this opportunity to thank the Chairman Board of Trustees Al-Haj Dr. Hassan Basajjabalaba, and the Members of the Board for the continued financial and material support, and for creating an enabling environment of mutual consultations, guidance, and continuous dialogue for the smooth running and good progress of the University.
Let me sincerely thank Prof Fred Wabwire-Manghen, the Chairperson and Members of the University Council, and recognize each member’s contribution despite their heavy national and international obligations.
I applaud Members of the University Senate and Management at both the main and western campuses for being part of my dynamic and highly focused team. Your efforts are hereby recognized. Please carry on and do not tire. I also thank all staff (academic, administrative, and support) who have shown the highest level of resilience in the hard times. Indeed you are the fittest amidst the turbulent and tough Covid-19 situation. You have sacrificed your all, to keep KIU flying high. We can only say to you, “Thank you and Congratulations for demonstrating your unwavering commitments to the institution”.
I warmly welcome the team of TAC Volunteers and those about to join the KIU fraternity as supported by the Federal Government of Nigeria. So far 21 have arrived, while about 30 more will be arriving before the end of November 2021, all adding to our human resources. Uganda is a very hospitable country, please enjoy your service at KIU and the community at large. We will be there to assist you to quickly settle. We are indeed grateful to the government of Nigeria through the Nigeria High Commission and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of both Uganda and Nigeria. In the same vein, I welcome all new staff and thank all those who continue to serve or have served the University in the recent past.
On this occasion, I would like to thank all our continuing students and the Guild Leaders for being resilient, listening, and understanding. I know, there are a number of inconveniences that have arisen out of the new normal and a number of disruptions in your studies. For example, some of you were unable to take advantage of the online learning and assessments. Others faced different forms of challenges. These are not in any way deliberate or intended but are a consequence of the pandemic. Our experiences make us better by the day and all we need from you is to keep your feedback flowing to the relevant University offices as we try to fix all issues that may hinder or delay your academic progress.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD AMIDST THE PERSISTENT COVID-19 PANDEMIC DISRUPTIONS?
The outbreak of the pandemic has shown that the human race remains prone to natural occurrences. Covid-19 has leveled all of us to be universal, at the least, the scare it has caused has made all of us have a common focus on the importance of our existence. Indeed the fight against Covid-19 is an existential one, regardless of your location in the World.
Although it has caused devastation in education, like many other sectors of life, it is not all bad because some opportunities have come to the surface. For example, previously, education institutions, particularly in Africa and some Asian countries, attached little or no importance to the uptake of digital technologies as a tool to enhance teaching, research, and community outreaches. Under the current circumstances, it is no longer an option. Just like the importance attached to physical infrastructure prior to the pandemic, it is now prudent for institutional investments in ICTs and Digital Technologies in a collaborative way.
In my recent inaugural lecture for my Professorship from the Academic Union of Oxford, I proposed the concept of Cooperation and not Competition as the way to go in the globalized world. The other idea is to apply what I term reverse linkages in which institutions that are advanced in some aspects and niches collaborate with those that need to be uplifted. At the national level, the KIU University Council has directed that the University Management seeks to establish partnerships with institutions in Uganda, as we continue to pursue international partners.
In this spirit, through a memorandum of understanding and agreement between Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) and KIU, the Board of Trustees has offered 24 graduate scholarships to build the capacity of IUIU Medical School and their upcoming Faculty of Engineering and Technology. Selected staff of IUIU will pursue Master's Degrees in Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, and Engineering at KIU. We already have memoranda of Understanding with Kyambogo University and other institutions in Uganda, in addition to IUIU.
RESILIENCE BUILDS HOPE
At KIU, we have continued to reconfigure our systems to cope with the new normal. Our students and staff have shown the highest level of resilience in the current circumstances and for that we are grateful. The basics of evolution speak to survival for the fittest, and at the moment, institutions have a huge task to sustain their survival.
Many students may have fallen victims of temporary diversion from their education dreams. For instance, we have had stories of young girls becoming mothers, while young boys have fast-tracked their ascendance to fatherhood. Such young parents need psycho-social support to help them juggle their new roles and continuity of their educational aspirations. My advice to the affected individuals is to get back to school when the opportunity avails itself, and plan accordingly, while parents, guardians, and sponsors are called upon to restart their support to students to ensure the dreams are realized. There is a need for all of us to embrace technology, and for sponsors, guardians, and parents not to take the acquisition of smart gadgets as a luxury anymore, but a necessity and a must-have for the student. This will facilitate the quick uptake of technology to facilitate learning. Come to KIU and let's talk and find a solution together. Our admissions are open for new intakes.
RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS
I take this opportunity to congratulate all our staff who continue to publish their scholarly works and contributing to global knowledge. Our research output continues to improve significantly and recognized on the global scene. The University hopes to increase its research budget and vibrancy to meet the research budget demands, especially for Covid-19 related interventional research, and with the guidance of the Council Committee of Research and Innovation.
The University appreciates the Government of Uganda, Federal Government of Nigeria, Foreign Embassies, local, regional and international government, and non-government organizations for the collaborations and partnerships with KIU. I thank the visionary Board of Trustees (BOT), led by the Chairman, Al-Hajj Dr. Hassan Basajjabalaba, the Chancellor, the Chairperson and members of the University Council and the management team, Academic, Administrative and Support Staff. Your contributions have made a difference in the advancement of the University. We also thank all our other partners in Uganda, East Africa, and beyond for making KIU a formidable partner.
I once again congratulate all the graduands for reaching this day. Please remember you have but only a limited time to enjoy your life and therefore guard it jealously.
I wish you all the best and encourage you to remain our good KIU ambassadors.
Thank you and all the best.
Prof. Mouhamad Mpezamihigo
Saturday 20th November 2021