Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Acceptance Speech by Sir Ketumile Masire on the Occasion of his Inauguration as the Chancellor of the University of Botswana

source: Republic of Botswana (10/8/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 20 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

B4) 6/8/09: Acceptance Speech by Sir Ketumile Masire on the Occasion of his Inauguration as the Chancellor of the University of Botswana:

[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I am exceptionally pleased to be part of this grand occasion, marking my installation as Chancellor of the University of Botswana (UB). It is a day of joy and pride for me, for as it were, it is my second bite at the cherry. In the history of the University it must be a momentous occasion when one is privileged to be installed Chancellor for a second time - and not a second consecutive term
at that.

2. Hence to be appointed the third Chancellor of the University of Botswana, a University with a proud history and reputation is a great honour indeed. There is a feeling of accomplishment and more importantly, there is a sense of duty to perform excellently to live up to the trust and confidence that the President and the Republic have shown me.

3. I express sincere gratitude to you all, to the members of the UB Council, staff and students, and our invited guests for your presence here today. I also wish to recognize friends and colleagues from other tertiary institutions who are here to share in this occasion. A special mention goes to the students, who are the reason for the existence of any University.

4. The University of Botswana, as its precursors, University of Botswana and Swaziland (UBS) and University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS), was established for the purpose of developing and enhancing the minds of our people and empowering them with the skills necessary to assist in the development of our great nation.

5. It is the duty of the University to provide the graduates with the capacity to contribute to the economic, social, cultural and scientific development of the nation. UB has a responsibility to address and help solve the many challenges facing the nation and indeed those that face the region and the wider world community.

6. I note with pride that UB has hitherto played a pivotal role in national human resource development, servicing one of the fastest growing economies of Africa. However, it is important to emphasise that the work of the University cannot be nationally focused only, for it will continue to be judged globally in the context of the best Universities in the world.

7. Director of Ceremonies, ours is a young institution but with great ambitions, and aspirations. It is a growing institution. We live in a competitive and ever changing world. Therefore, UB has a challenge to improve in everything it does. We must be nimble enough to take risks and to commit to change to meet new world challenges.

8. It is a daunting task, but one which I believe UB is ready to confront head-on. This is a task UB has set itself in its new Strategic Plan - A Strategy for Excellence - approved by Council in June 2008. The Strategy has set the following as the six key priorities of the University:

o extending Access and Participation;
o providing Relevant and High Quality Programmes;
o intensifying Research Performance;
o strengthening Engagement;
o improving the Student Experience; and
o enhancing Human Resources for Excellence in Delivery.

9. By articulating these priority areas, the University seeks to respond not only to the immediate challenges of this nation but also to mark itself out as a player in higher education globally.

10. It is an admission that UB operates in an environment of constant change, particularly in the area of scientific development and communication technology. UB must be ready to adapt if it is to survive. I pledge myself to be part of that process of institutional change and development.

11. Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Universities no longer have monopolies on knowledge. The rapid changes in new technologies and strategic developments have revolutionised education as we have known it. A new breed of learners has emerged - learners who want to access all the information they need from anywhere, at any time, and for any subject. The model of education, where learners spent considerable time in front of a lecturer is fast disappearing.

12. The University will need to create new learning communities and spaces in which connectivity is the key to individual development and academic success. UB must be at the front of developments in digital scholarship.

13. It is in this regard that I appeal to the Government to invest more in policies that will enable our learners more access to
connectivity. The proliferation and extension of hot zones and wi-fis (wireless connections) will alone not be enough. What is required is a commitment to lowering the cost of access to connectivity, for the populace in general and in particular for access by tertiary institutions. It is those nations which have invested in connectivity for the education sector that have taken stronger leaps in economic development.

14. In drawing to my conclusion, let us remind ourselves of the purposes of the University. As I said earlier, the core business of our University is education of the students and provision of the necessary human resources for this nation. It is therefore incumbent upon us, in providing education, to develop a framework where students will find the University to be a welcoming, fulfilling and challenging environment. A framework that is committed to life-long learning.

15. We must give every student who comes to this institution a hope for the future, we must insist on excellence in everything we do for this nation. Our graduates must have attributes that fit them for life, work and active citizenship.

16. Furthermore, it has always been the aim of UB to increase research and scholarship in order to contribute to greater knowledge generation and application. Quality research is therefore an essential element in UB's quest for excellence.

17. I believe this is something that is achievable: with the ongoing capital project developments, I trust the facilities we have will be enough for us to make a head-start. What remains for us to do is to perfect our work ethics and strive to retain the best brains we have attracted so far. We must concern ourselves with improving the well-being of our staff as well as creating a productive academic environment for them. I hope the new funding model of the Tertiary Education Council, in spite of the recurring global crisis, will provide the resources needed to produce academic excellence.

18. I would like to emphasise that it is essential that the University engages fully with the wider community and acts as the conscience of society. The intellectual resources of the University must be made available beyond the confines of the campus in a variety of different ways and the University must be open to the contributions of its stakeholders.

19. In particular, we must hear the voices of our intellectuals on the major public issues of the day, enhancing our democratic development. After all, ladies and gentlemen, this University is an asset of the entire nation, built with contributions made by ordinary Batswana to serve the nation as a whole.

20. As I mentioned earlier, the adoption of the new strategic plan has indicated that our University is poised to move a gear up and is indeed committed to meeting the needs of the economy and society. The University cannot achieve this alone. The new strategic plan calls for all to join hands in preparing the next generation of leaders and moving the nation forward.

21. The strategy calls for the creation of partnerships and linkages - with commerce and industry, with government and civil society, with parents and the public at large. Each one of us must play a role in the development of the University of Botswana. I trust we are all ready for the task.

22. Finally, may I take the opportunity to thank His Excellency the President - Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, UB Council, Staff and Students for bestowing on me the privilege of becoming Chancellor of the University of Botswana. I am honoured to be the third Chancellor of this University. I pledge to work with dedication and commitment to achieve great things for the University and for the people of Botswana.

I thank you. Pula!!!

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