Virtual graduation is the new normal thanks to Covid-19
Irene Githinji and James Wakahiu
Universities have beat the odds caused by coronavirus disease and have been forced to hold virtual graduations, the first time ever in the history of local education calendar.
Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) George Magoha directed universities to scale up their virtual learning, as they prepare to re-open next year and subsequent graduations for learners who have successfully completed their programmes.
Magoha said online learning has been identified as an adequate response to prolonged closure of learning institutions as a result of the deadly respiratory illness.
“Most of our universities are going on with online learning while others have conducted or planning to hold online graduations.
The government is ready to offer facilitation for all universities to have virtual content, as face-to-face learning remains suspended,” the CS said last month.
He added: “Universities should continue holding virtual learning and graduation for students who have successfully completed their programmes and met graduation requirements as set by respective senates.”
Coronavirus and virtual learning for institutions of higher learning have presented a new scenario.
The pandemic has done away with the traditionally exciting occasion characterised by donning graduation gowns, complete with huge gatherings to celebrate achievement this year.
Already, several graduations are lined up while others have been held already.
Among those that have conducted virtual graduations are Egerton, Riara and Dedan Kimathi universities.
The University of Nairobi’s 63rd graduation is also to be held virtually on September 25.
Varsity’s Vice Chancellor Gitahi Kiama said all learners who have qualified for doctorate, masters, bachelors, diplomas and fellowships will graduate.
“I urge parents, guardians and sponsors to support the students with smart phones, iPads, or computers to enable them participate in our online platforms from the safety of their homes,” said Kiama, in a notice issued last month.
Kenyatta University has also issued a notice for the 48th graduation, also to be conducted virtually.
The university directed eligible graduands to apply online through the students’ online services portal.
The deadline for application is September 30.
“Kenyatta University wishes to inform all undergraduate students in the regular, continuing education and digital school programmes who completed their studies by end of December 2019 and all post graduate students who will have submitted their final thesis by end of September, that they can apply for 48th graduation ceremony scheduled for December,” read the notice.
Mt Kenya University will hold its virtual graduation on October 9.
“We trust that you are keeping safe as we continue with online learning and examinations.
The purpose of this notice is to inform you that the 18th graduation ceremony of Mount Kenya University will be held virtually on October 9.
All students aspiring to graduate are requested to ensure that they meet the requirements for graduation,” read the varsity notice.
MKU’s management has also opted for a virtual ceremony in compliance with government’s protocols on Covid-19, particularly social distancing.
“On behalf of the university council, management board and senate, all our esteemed graduands who have qualified for conferment of degrees and various university awards, are informed that the 18th graduation ceremony will be held virtually on October 9, 2020 at 9am,” the varsity’s Vice Chancellor John Struther said in a notice.
The theme of the graduation will be “Embracing innovative digital technologies in higher education: Excelling amidst emerging challenges.”
The list of prospective graduands has been posted on the university website and eligible learners whose names are missing from the list have been advised to write to the university for action.
Online clearance for graduation will be done through the University Management Information System.