Statements Statements

Open University of Mauritius

10th Convocation Ceremony

Open University of Mauritius

29 October 2020

High Commissioner Tanmaya Lal

Chairperson of the Open University of Mauritius Mr. R Duva Pentiah

Director General Dr. Kaviraj Sharma Sukon

Members of Faculty and management,

Dear Students and parents,

It is a privilege to join all of you on this important occasion. I am grateful for this invitation. It is especially exciting to be among so many young and motivated minds.

It is perhaps only in Mauritius that we can gather for such a Convocation ceremony currently. We have to thank the Government, all the frontline workers and the people for their efforts to make Mauritius CovidSafe.


A Convocation Address is the appropriate occasion to pay homage to our teachers. I begin my address by a simple expression by the American historian Henry Adams (American Historian, descended from a family that gave two Presidents) :

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

I may also refer to what probably is the first available convocation address; delivered by our rishis and found in तैत्तिरीयोपनिषद् :

यान्यस्माकम् सुचारितानि, तानि त्वयोपास्यानि, नो इतराणि

Aware of human failings and imperfections in himself, the Acharya cautions his pupils that in their own conduct they must follow whatever was without blemish in him and none else of his conduct!


Today is a proud occasion for all the students, parents and teachers.

It is heartening to learn about the remarkable work that this University has been doing since its establishment in 2012.

I understand that many of you are already working and these may be additional qualifications that you have pursued at this Open University.

This is encouraging to see that you have invested time and energy to upgrade and improve your knowledge, skills and qualifications.


There are learned discourses on the aim and purpose of education. We turn to another Adams—James T Addams -- who very succinctly summarizes what education is all about :

There are obviously two educations.

One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live. Obviously while the first is indispensable for living,

The second is what will make us a social man

realizing our multidimensional potential to the maximum point

under a given set of circumstances,

possibly leaving behind us something for others to remember us by.

Good education and academic excellence lay the foundation for the development of any society. This has been true across the world through the ages. This is where the role of schools, colleges and teachers becomes so important.

Education empowers us and makes us less dependent upon others. Nearly 120 years ago, here in Mauritius Gandhiji urged active pursuit of education as a path to empowerment for the colonized people.

Both India and Mauritius have since made remarkable progress by investing in education.

Mauritius, a rainbow nation and an island economy, has progressed rapidly from being a colony to a successful democracy, economy and a welfare state.

Today Mauritius tops various rankings not only in Africa but fares better vis-à-vis many other countries. Mauritius, with its multi-lingual skills, is also well placed to strengthen its position as a higher education hub for Africa.

You all know that this success has been built upon respect for diversity and evolving from a sugar plantation economy diversifying into textile manufacturing, tourism, offshore financial services and IT sectors primarily.

Going forward, various aspects of ocean economy, renewable energy, knowledge economy and innovation will have to be developed more fully. Self-sufficiency in some critical areas will also be required as the Covid pandemic has shown.

Academic institutions of excellence go a long way in building a strong base for the future of its students. Countries with top-class institutions attract talent from the world over and become global leaders in various fields.

India has had a long tradition of institutions of higher learning of great renown. Over the past two thousand years and more, legendary multi-disciplinary institutions or universities flourished in cities such as Takshshila, Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi. These attracted scholars and thousands of students not only from India but from afar.

Indian scholars made seminal contributions in diverse fields such as mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, medical science and surgery, civil engineering, architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, alongwith philosophy, yoga and other fine arts.

Today, in India, education and research has helped us harness nuclear power; launch probes to the Moon and Mars, do research on Arctic and Antarctic, join the leaders in IT and software development, in solar energy, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and many other fields.

Many Indian scholars are known for their original and significant contributions in fields of economics, history and other liberal arts. A number of top global multinationals are today managed by Indians who graduated from premier research and management institutions in India.


Most societies cannot educate all their population, because of lack of resources or high cost of University education.

The Open University format is admirably fulfilling this vital gap worldwide. In India, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) alongwith several other universities are offering higher education in a wide range of subjects. They are coordinated by IGNOU which caters to over 40,000 students from over 40 countries worldwide.

A rare fortunate outcome of the global Covid-19 catastrophe is that the stock of distance learning worldwide has risen, and their acceptance in the market is likely to see a further improvement.


Education is an area where India and Mauritius have longstanding engagement and partnership. A large number of Mauritians have studied in India over the last several decades. Thousands of them have also availed of various higher education scholarships. India remains an attractive and affordable destination for quality higher education for students from across the world.

Similarly, a number of Indian students study at medical institutions here and many Indian interns work with hospitality industry in Mauritius to gain valuable experience.

In the mid-1990s, the then newly created Division of Distance Learning in Government of Mauritius partnered IGNOU, which itself had been established a decade earlier. The collaboration included development of online course content and conduct of degree courses.

This was followed by partnership within the framework of Pan Africa e-Network project launched in 2008, where 7 Indian premier universities were involved for tele-education. The project has now been remodeled and upgraded into the Vidya Bharati project called the e-VBAB.

Our partnership now also extends to young children. A Digital Early Learning Programme through the distribution of e-tablets to students of grades 1 to 3 in Mauritius has been very successful and popular with young students and teachers who enjoy the new learning systems aided by modern digital technologies.


If we turn to the second aspect of education, its broader impact on our lives beyond as a means to gain mere livelihood, Will Durant, the outstanding historian, said that ‘’Education is progressive discovery of our ignorance’’.

This has been the prime exhortation of both the Eastern Philosophers and the Western Philosophers — आत्मानम् विद्धि and Gnothi Seauton, both meaning ‘Know Thyself’.

The aim of education, therefore, is to kindle a certain restlessness of the mind to know more and possibly add to the stock of world knowledge if we can.


Convocation usually marks a very significant transition. For those of you who may still not have started work, this is a transition from a largely protected environment to a tougher world, one full of opportunities but also challenges to be managed. Transition to greater responsibility.

While professional qualifications prepare us for better opportunities at the workplace, there cannot be smooth sailing at all times in anyone’s life or career. We must develop the resilience to meet challenges and occasional failures, learn from them and not let them overwhelm us.

Technology and macroeconomic policies over the last two or three decades have significantly integrated economies. Globalisation has led to huge shifts in international economies in terms of trade, investment and mobility of persons.

The Covid pandemic is impacting all economies and supply chains in many ways and forcing fundamental rethink.

In addition to the health crisis, the pandemic has disrupted all spheres of human activity. It has also impacted significantly the way we think about education and workplace.

The important lesson in this rapidly changing economic and knowledge landscape, in an increasingly inter-connected world, is one of quickly managing the challenges and adapting. Professional skills and qualifications equip us with tools to be flexible and manage such changes.

Use of technology and a multi-disciplinary approach is of growing significance for both teachers and students and professionals in contemporary world.


While we study many subjects at a general level and specialize in one or two at a higher level, we must make efforts to understand where such knowledge and qualification fits in our broader understanding of the world.

For instance we study History, Geography, Economics, Finance, Management, Law, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics. And many more.

But we must be conscious that these subjects are not completely separate. These distinctions are manmade.

The history of a country is linked to its geography. Together history and geography can tell you about the agriculture, economy, cuisine, culture and arts of a place. We can easily imagine this in the context of Mauritius for instance. Collectively they hint to us what may lie ahead.

It is the same with science. It appears that soon after the Big Bang, when laws of physics took shape, bigger molecules and elements began to be formed giving primacy to chemistry. Soon geology took over as rocks formed planets. At some stage, geo-chemical reactions and energy interactions gave rise to biology on earth.

Life – plants and then animals – evolved in the sea, and then came to land. Human beings are recent entrants who may have evolved initially in Africa as tectonic plates shifted and climate changed. Humans made tools, started agriculture, established civilizations.

And today, our industries and lifestyles are affecting the climate; food, energy and water security and our own long term future. Government policies, corporate actions and personal choices will again determine many aspects of these trends in future.


We live in fast changing times. There is a bewildering variety of subjects and professional qualifications to choose from. Similarly there are new types of jobs, especially in services sector, assisted by digital and communication technologies emerging almost every day. This requires lifelong learning, upgradation of skills and an open positive attitude.

While today’s world and workplace may appear more uncertain than ever, it offers many times more opportunities than were available even two to three decades ago both locally and globally. Possessing skill sets and tools to adapt to different conditions are becoming more crucial.

As you advance in your careers, it will be useful to place value on professionalism, discipline, quality of work, team work and ethics alongwith sincerity and decency. These human qualities can never let you down in the long run.

Equally important will be to remain curious and alert to the various inter-connections. Understand society, economies and global issues. Also the engagement of the organization that you work for with the wider society and economy. This would bring value to your organization and help you become thought leaders in your respective fields.

While ambition is a good motivation, and a healthy competition is useful, you must retain a broader perspective on life. A reasonable work-life balance is also important, even if difficult to achieve.

I remember my father reminding me when I was going through this transition three decades back, that even if one were to win a rat race, one would still be a rat! It would be far better to strive to become responsible citizens.

When I started working more than three decades ago, our long distance communication was with landline phones, which very few people had in India. Today, we are always connected by internet and smartphones to the world. All the time exposed to latest trends and developments, which do not appear distant at all. But we must try and not lose touch with our immediate surroundings – family and friends. Our environment, our heritage and our roots. For our own sake.

I wish all of you graduating students the very best in your professional careers and lives ahead. Continue to make all efforts to become good individuals. That will help your organisations, families and society.

Congratulations once again to you, your families and your teachers on your Convocation.

Thank you.

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