What you need to know:
- Only 15 key people including the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and members of Senate will be present at the fete.
- University says the ceremony will be very brief and follow all laid out directives by the Ministry of Health.
The Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) is set to hold a virtual graduation ceremony for its students in two weeks, becoming the first Kenyan institution of higher learning to do so.
This comes amid a ban on public gatherings due to Covid-19.
Vice Chancellor Prof Ndirangu Kioni said the move follows requests from students.
"The students requested for the graduation ceremony because they wanted their certificates so that they can move on with their lives," he said.
The virtual event that will be held on May 8 will see 1,777 students graduate in its 9th ceremony.
"The University Senate resolved to hold a virtual graduation in keeping with our student-centric approach. It was to ensure that we keep our promise to the students and graduands of DeKUT of timely completion of studies," he said.
ONLY 15 PRESENT
"It will be a brief ceremony and will be attended by a maximum of 15 people spread out in our main hall. The deans will stay in their offices or wherever they will be and read out the names from there," he said, adding that it will be streamed online.
The 15 will be the key people including the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and members of Senate.
"The ceremony will be very brief and will follow all the laid out directives by the Ministry of Health. The short span will also discourage people congregating at any point," he said.
The students will catch the ceremony online via the university's YouTube, Facebook and Twitter platforms.
"In these uncertain times, it is hard to predict when the country will go back to normalcy so that a traditional graduation can be held...our graduands who worked hard to complete their studies should not suffer a delay," said Prof Kioni.
"Our students in nursing and IT completed their studies last year but cannot secure employment for lack of the certificates yet their skills are needed during this period," he added.
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 graduands are required to part with between Sh3,100 (diplomas) and Sh6,100 (PhD).
The graduating class will receive their certificates after two weeks of the virtual graduation.
While student leaders seem to agree with the administration, some graduands are against virtual graduation. They have taken to Twitter and Facebook to oppose the graduation fee requirement.
Through #NoVirtualGraduation hashtag and WhatsApp groups, they questioned the rush to award certificates at a time when the pandemic has shut the economy. Hurbert Murende, a graduand said, "a virtual graduation is like being ripped off something that you are worth, it feels like watching a graduation on YouTube, which makes no sense."
Additional reporting by Daniel Ogetta and Hellen Shikanda