Some 2185 students at Egerton University are set to graduate this Friday virtually, as learning institutions embrace technology to continue with their programmes amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the second time, pageantry and colour that whips the sluggish Njoro Town to life when the University hosts key events at its main campus will be missing. Acting Registrar, Academic Affairs Professor Mwanarusi Saidi has affirmed that the 43rd graduation ceremony will be a brief affair attended by a maximum of 15 people, spread out at the institution’s main hall.
“It will be the briefest graduation ceremony in Egerton University’s 82-year existence and will adhere to all rules and regulations laid out by the Ministry of Health to contain the spread of Covid-19. We also want to discourage those who will be following proceedings online not to congregate at one point,” stated Prof. Saidi.
The 15 key people expected to physically grace the occasion include, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Education Professor George Magoha or his representative, Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education and Research Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi, Chancellor Dr. Narendra Rameshchandra Raval, the Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Isaac Kibwage, Chair of Council Ambassador Dr. Luka Hukka Wario and members of Senate.
Last year the business community was left nursing economic losses after the University held its 42nd graduation ceremony online for the first time.
Founded by Lord Maurice Egerton of Tatton, a British national who settled in Kenya in 1939, graduation ceremonies since the institution became a full-fledged University in 1987 have also been associated with financial windfalls and opportunities to reconnect with relatives and friends.
It is a time when hoteliers, taxi drivers, matatu operators, hawkers and food vendors in Nakuru Town and its environs have always looked forward to record brisk business with demand for transportation services, accommodation, food stuffs, snacks and decorations skyrocketing.
Professor Saidi stated that the deans will read out names of graduands from their offices or wherever they will be, adding that the event will be streamed online.
“The ceremony will be very brief and will follow all the laid-out directives by the Ministry of Health. The short span will also discourage people congregating at any point,” she added.
The students will catch the ceremony online via the university’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter platforms. They will also be able to link with the event through ZOOM.
Professor Saidi said virtual graduations and lectures should now be embraced as the new normal, stating that institutions of higher learning will need to adapt, innovate and proceed with life differently.
“It is not easy to project when the country will be restored to normalcy, following the outbreak and spread of Covid-19. As for now a traditional graduation cannot be held. However, this does not mean that normal operations at learning institutions should be stalled,” she noted.
As part of preparations, the university has advised graduands to download their e-invitation cards from the student portal. They will follow the live event from wherever they will be. The PhD graduands are required to part with Sh6, 000, while Masters and Bachelors graduands will pay Sh5, 000 and 4,500 respectively. Those to be conferred with Diplomas will also part with Sh4, 500 as graduation fees.
Only those graduating with PhDs will receive their academic certificates on the graduation day, while the rest will have to wait for two weeks after the virtual ceremony.
There will be no students, scholars, dignitaries and multitudes that usually form a sea of humanity at the graduation square. There will be no after parties, feasts or celebrations of any kind. Names will be read out and credentials conferred online.
By Catherine Karanja and Anne Mwale