For the first time, pomp and colour that stirs the sleepy Njoro Town to life when Egerton University hosts key events at its main campus will be missing during the 42nd graduation ceremony set to be held on-line within two weeks.
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 for traders 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.
At the 42nd graduation ceremony, events will unfold in a different way – The students will catch the ceremony online via the University’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter platforms.
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 academic credentials conferred online in a ceremony with not more than 15 people.
The Vice Chancellor (VC), Prof. Rose Mwonya said in a statement that the event that will take place on July 31st will be the first-ever virtual graduation ceremony at the institution amid a ban on public gatherings due to Covid-19 pandemic.
“The graduation ceremony has to go on to enable our students get their academic documents and move on with their lives,” said the Vice Chancellor.
In May this year, Dedan Kimathi University became the first higher education institution to host a virtual graduation ceremony in the country where graduands, family and friends followed events closely on social media platforms.
Prof. Mwonya said the brief ceremony will be attended by a maximum of 15 people spread out in the main hall. The deans will stay in their offices and read out the names from there as the event is streamed online.
“Among the key 15 will be the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and members of Senate. It will be the briefest graduation ceremony in Egerton University’s 81-year existence and will adhere to all rules and regulations laid out by the Ministry of Health to contain spread of Covid 19. We also discourage those who will be following proceeding online not to congregate at one point,” stated the VC.
Jerome Kimulwo, one of the graduands scheduled to graduate during the ceremony hailed the move as a right step that will save students the agony of waiting for their credentials.
“The reality is that the country will take a very long time to go back to routines that may permit a traditional graduation ceremony. Those who have successfully completed their studies should be conferred with their degrees and awarded their diplomas and certificates,” said Kimulwo.
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 graduating class will receive their certificates after two weeks of the virtual graduation.
By Anne Mwale/Elmad Ogara