14 June was a cold and rainy day, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the group of inaugural graduates from the UCT Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice (GSDPP).
Saarah Salie, Takalani Rathiyaya, Quinton Mageza, Lucas Malambe (all from South Africa), Maybin Nsupila (Zambia), Percy Makombe and Rwakurumbira Munyaradzi (both from Zimbabwe) are the first seven to graduate from the GSDPP with an MPhil degree in Development Policy and Practice. The degree is now in it's third year, with plenty more graduates in the pipeline.
Alan Hirsch and Brian Levy, director and academic director of the GSDPP respectively, were just as enthusiastic about having reached this milestone as their students.
Levy said, “We have been the pioneers together and we should be pleased at what we are building. There is a huge amount of work that we still have to do together, so this is just the beginning.”
The GSDPP's two-year, part-time MPhil programme is aimed at senior officials from across Africa and offers students a multidisciplinary degree with a balance of theoretical and practical skills. Hirsch said that the aim of the MPhil is to build a network of skilled, committed reformers working in Africa.
“We think our network can make a contribution to trying to sustain the progress that Africa has made in the last 20 years and building foundations for taking it forward. And we hope and expect that our network of public entrepreneurs makes a difference,” he said.
The new MPhil graduates seem to be up to the challenge. They say that the programme has made them think differently and given them new perspectives thanks to the cross-cultural, cross-national and multidisciplinary exposure.
“It's not just development studies,” says Rwakurumbira Munyaradzi, Director for Adaptive Path Consultants P/L, “it's about policy development; it's practical, experiential learning.”
Listening to the graduates, it's obvious that learning with and from peers from the public and private sector from across Africa has been extremely valuable.
“We were able to draw both from our unique situations and common challenges,” said Munyaradzi.
During his address at the graduation ceremony, Emeritus Professor Francis Wilson emphasised that the future is in the hands of these highly educated and able new MPhils.
“You are now the best educated members of a new generation who will take our country [and this continent] into the future,” he told the graduates. “There is need for a radical creative vision beyond the gods that have failed both on the left and the right ... It is your task to forge that new vision, not least in southern Africa, and to bring it about.”
Story Ute Kuhlmann. Photo Liam Cornell.
The GSDPP is in the process of recruiting the fourth cohort of MPhil students; applications close on 5 September 2016. For more information, contact Elvina Moosa.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.