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Message from the Principal and VC, Professor P LenkaBula as Unisa celebrates 150 years of shaping futures

Unisa 150 year celebrationToday marks the sesquicentenary (150 years) of the University of South Africa (Unisa). This is an exceedingly remarkable achievement by the first distance learning university in the history/herstory of humankind. We should be proud of this truly glorious milestone that South Africa and our continent bequeathed local and global society.

The history of higher education in South Africa is written on the back of the birth and growth of this august university. For 150 years and for several generations, Unisa has remained a pioneer and leader in the open distance education market. More than any other institution, Unisa has made quality education accessible to poor and working-class communities as well as marginal geographies here at home and abroad. In this way, Unisa has made an indelible mark in the quest for a better quality of life, culture, and the self-realisation of the people.

Everywhere in the world, the visions and missions of a university are contested in an increasingly ambiguous, uncertain, and volatile world. At Unisa, however, we have remained committed to the core mandate of learning, teaching, research, and engaged scholarship. Our core academic programme enables us to be one with our community.

It positions the university to contribute meaningfully to innovation and development that change lives with a view to making our world a better place.

The idea of education is synonymous with practice of freedom. Through our curricula, theory and praxis, we enable our students to gain knowledge and capabilities that free their minds to see beyond any limitations, both tangible and intangible. With our firm commitment to Africanisation and Internationalisation, the decolonial ethic and the transformation agenda among others, we hope that our university contributes to cultural and economically freedom – for there is no real freedom for a people that remain culturally imprisoned to the holistic freedom of our communities. The support and success of our students in the academic project, remains our primary objective. We remain proud of the footprints of our alumnus who are doing great things all over the world.

As the world changes in a rapid way, Unisa needs to remain true to its roots and keep its gaze on its raison d’etre which is to ask hard but relevant questions with a view to improving the human condition. For the next 150 years, we should keep the fires burning to remain true to our reason of being.

Happy sesquicentenary birthday to Unisa, a truly African university shaping futures in service of humanity.

Publish date: 2023/06/26

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