Prof Tinyiko Maluleke.
Not only did I receive a warm welcome from the peace and safety officers at the gate, I also felt their uBuntu/Botho when they commended me for wearing my mask even as they checked my credentials. In the eyes of the students who were standing in queue at the marquee at the gate, I saw hope and grit and resolve. Their sense of purpose was unmistakable. In their demeanour I saw a hunger for ‘knowledge that works’.
Upon meeting the members of the executive and bumping into a few Executive Deans later that day, I realised that TUT management comprises of some of the very best in the knowledge industry and in the higher education sector today. My initial instincts and first impressions have since been confirmed several times over.
TUT is a great place to work, and it is an even greater place to study! All of us, students, staff and alumni are privileged to be associated with this excellent institution – the People’s University.
But I digress.
The aim of my brief intervention today is to express a word of welcome to all the students and all staff members at the beginning of the 2022 academic year. As you know, over the past two years, our country and the whole world has faced the greatest public health threat since the Influenza epidemic of 1918. In the process, we have had to rethink our teaching and learning modalities, as well as adapting our modes of convening and communication.
We are not out of the woods yet, but if the recent announcements by government pertaining to a slightly more relaxed set of COVID-19 protocols is anything to go by, we have reason to be hopeful. I invite my colleagues at TUT to approach the 2022 academic year with the same sense of innovation, diligence and determination. Already there are signs that our level of excellence in service, teaching and research is rising.
To the TUT senior student I wish to say: Welcome back! You have survived the most challenging years any university student has faced over the past century. You have succeeded in the midst of, and in spite of, the COVID-19 pandemic. You know the personal hurdles which you had to navigate in order to come this far. Now, here is a brand new academic year, your choice is either to finish what you started or to be famous for being a good starter but a non-finisher.
To the first-year student I say: You have just joined the luckiest million and half young people who are enrolled in our national university system. But you are not just a university student; you are a Tshwane University of Technology student – a University which produces knowledge that works. By virtue of being accepted at TUT, you have already distinguished yourself from amongst your peers. Your character is already marked by a hunger for knowledge that works. By virtue of registering as a TUT student, you have signed up for eventual national duty.
While the unemployment rate is high, what is often left unsaid is that our country has much work to be done. As the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said in his celebrated poem titled, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, about mariners who were stuck at sea: “Water, water, everywhere, [but] not any drop to drink”.
Look around you, in the streets of our cities, in the village squares and in our informal settlements – to paraphrase Samuel Taylor Coleridge, there is work, work everywhere, but no employment in sight.” You know why? Because we lack the people with the skills to do the jobs that need to be done in our country.
Therefore, dear students, dear colleagues, our country is calling, come on, let’s do this!
You can also watch the Welcome Message by clicking on the banner below