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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist

Unisa’s 150th anniversary: Historic journey towards accessible education

Delivering the keynote address at Unisa's 150th anniversary, Mashatile applauded the institution's contributions to higher education.

Unisa celebrated a historic milestone today – the university’s 150th anniversary. Despite recent controversies, the spirit of the commemoration wasn’t dampened.

The anniversary comes hot on the heels of allegations against Unisa related to administrative missteps and supply chain issues.

Unisa’s 150th anniversary

Distinguished attendees included former president and chancellor of Unisa – Thabo Mbeki, Unisa council chairperson – Mashukudu J Maboa, as well as principal and vice-chancellor – Professor Puleng LenkaBula.

Keynote address

The celebratory event took place at Unisa’s Muckleneuck campus in Pretoria, and it included virtual attendance to the global community.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile delivered the keynote address, outlining the importance of the occasion which coincided with the 82nd anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter.

Emphasising the core principles of the Freedom Charter, Mashatile praised Unisa’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas, the encouragement of cultural expression, and free, compulsory, universal, and equal education for all children.

Shaping Africa

He also encouraged Unisa to contemplate its contributions in shaping Africa’s intellectual future.

This is largely achieved through the university’s distance learning programmes, which makes education accessible to the masses.

Mashatile also highlighted Unisa’s efforts in other nations, such as Ethiopia, and praised the university for offering free education to underprivileged children.

Nsfas’ role

He said government will continue to improve South Africa’s education sector, pointing out that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) was instrumental in doubling enrolment in higher education institutions.

According to Mashatile, this increased the number of adults who have completed their tertiary education by 35% during the past 23 years.

He encouraged the institution to continue innovating and adjusting to societal shifts, and urged other institutions to follow Unisa’s example and develop programmes vital to impart practical skills.

Furthermore, he called for teachers to be taught how to use advanced teaching software to effectively educate students in an era defined by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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