By – SAnews.gov.za
Nelspruit – The University of Mpumalanga will become an instrument of progress and a beacon of hope, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the first Chancellor of the university.
Speaking after his installation as the university’s first Chancellor on Saturday, Deputy President Ramaphosa said the university should become a vital element of social, cultural and economical life of the province.
“It should develop the skills that the economy needs to grow, to diversify and to create jobs,” he said.
He said the university, which opened its doors to its first students in 2013, should promote an intellectual culture that thinks and rethinks the assumptions on development.
“This young university, among the first established in a free and democratic South Africa, is an emphatic affirmation of our determination to employ our sons and daughters in advancing the victories of peace.
“The University of Mpumalanga exists to create opportunities. It must generate ideas and develop the technology that will be used to tackle poverty, hunger, diseases and environmental degradation,” he said.
“The University of Mpumalanga has a vision to produce thinkers and leaders who see education as a service to humankind,” he said.
The Deputy President also called on the students not to destroy or burn the university.
“This University is not to be burned or thrashed. When there are problems, there are ways to deal with them,” he said.
The Chancellor said the university should join other universities in ensuring that no person is denied access to higher education because they are poor.
“We need to work together to develop funding mechanisms that are sustainable and ensure a high quality of education,” he said.
As Chancellor of the university, Deputy President Ramaphosa will preside at the first graduation ceremony at the university at a date still to be announced.
Congratulating the new Chancellor, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza said he was happy that he was part of a team that came with the idea of building a university in the province.
“On behalf of the people of Mpumalanga, I want to congratulate you as the new Chancellor of Mpumalanga University.
“Our people in the province used to travel long distances to acquire education,” he said.
University brings relief to students
The new university has brought much needed relief to the students in Mpumalanga.
Collen Nzimande, a student at the university told SAnews studying here has saved him money from travelling to other provinces to acquire education.
“I’m studying while staying at home. I don’t have to spend money traveling to other provinces. I also save money by not paying rent.
“I thank our government for building us this university,” he said.
Zanele Siwele, echoed the similar sentiments. “The establishment of the university here has helped us a great deal. We attend classes while we stay at home. We don’t not have to relocate to other provinces,” she said.
The university, which is easily accessible, is situated not far from the Nelspruit CBD.
Establishment of the university
The idea of the establishment of the university started in 1996. Then, a University Education Committee and the University Technikon Education Collaboration Committee merged and were tasked to pursue the establishment of the university in the province by the former MEC for Education, now Premier Mabuza.
The National Institute for Higher Education (Mpumalanga), was established in 2006, under the leadership of the late Prof C C Mokadi coordinated the provision of Higher Education in the province.
In 2010, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, appointed two task teams to investigate the feasibility of establishing new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.
In July 2013, President Jacob Zuma announced the name of the new university as the “University of Mpumalanga” as well as the names of the members of the Interim Council to oversee its formal establishment.
The new university was formally and legally promulgated through the publication of Government Notice (No. 36772) on 22 August 2013 and launched on the 31st of October 2013.
The University currently provides for three faculties of Commerce and Management, Agriculture and Natural Sciences and of Education.
According to the University, the faculties of Humanities (Arts and Social Sciences), Health Science and Engineering will be established in the near future.