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Message from the Chairperson of Council, Mr Mashukudu J Maboa as Unisa celebrates 150 years of shaping futures

Unisa 150 year celebrationToday, 26 June 2023, will go down the annals of the history/herstory as one of the most historic / herstoric days in the life of our university, the University of South Africa (Unisa). It is a day on which the Unisa community across the length and breadth of our country, the continent and the world at large, pauses to celebrate the birthday of this great institution, aptly given its other moniker, the University of the Land.

This is also a moment where our reflections should transcend the immediate past years as we cast our eyes farther and wider, marvelling with pride at the trailblazing footprints left by Unisa on the educational landscape here at home, and globally. We can claim without any equivocation that, for the past 150 years, this great institution has played an incredibly significant role in the higher education milieu, shaping futures in the service of humanity, indeed, e kitimile thamaga, le mmala wa yona ke wo mokhunou.

In that period, Unisa has been instrumental in spawning the university system in South Africa, including giving birth to some of the best universities in the country. We have, amongst many other colossal contributions, provided hope and access of learning opportunities to many people from the margins of society, including many of our struggle stalwarts who were imprisoned on Robben Island and other prisons and who could not access such opportunities in any other way.

To this day, Unisa remains resolute and committed to fulfilling its social mandate of accessible study opportunities to all and sundry. The University of South Africa continues to produce quality graduates who go on to successfully lead society in politics, commerce, academia, and other fields. Indeed, we are the alma mater of many great leaders, amongst whom we proudly list the founding father of our nation and our first democratic president, Isithwalandwe Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke as well as the current President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, to name but a few.

As we mark this significant milestone of Unisa’s 150th Anniversary, we do so against the backdrop of an overly concerning period in the life of Unisa, where questions and concerns have been raised about the governance, administrative and academic performance of the university. These are matters that are receiving thorough and priority attention at the level of Council and Executive Management, working closely with the Department of Higher Education and Training. It is our hope that in the final analysis, a solution which is in the best interest of Unisa and its stakeholders, will be reached.

As a committed member of the Unisa’s epistemic community, I urge you, on behalf of the Unisa Council, not to let the prevailing circumstances demoralise you. You should equally not let it deter you from pursuing the ultimate objective of ensuring that Unisa continues in its mission to serve society. If anything, this moment presents the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that our university is still standing strong and that, whatever challenges we may be facing, they are not insurmountable. We have the will, expertise and commitment to turn things around and take this institution to greater heights.

As the saying goes: “Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path for something great”.

Happy Birthday Unisa! May we march with gusto to the next sesquicentenary!

Publish date: 2023/06/26

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