Pretoria - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has described his appointment as chancellor of the University of Venda (Univen) as a rare honour and privilege.
"One is thus seized with a deep sense of ambivalence, elated at this great prospect but equally overcome with trepidation at the enormous responsibility that comes with being Chancellor of an institution like this, given the fact that my predecessors will be a hard act to follow," said Motlanthe on Tuesday.
The deputy president takes over the reigns from Cyril Ramaphosa.
Motlanthe said one of the major tasks faced by the university is to secure funds to boost agricultural research and rural development.
He said in order to contribute to government's programme of action, the university will have to respond to the challenges of producing graduates that are responsive and sensitive to the needs of the country.
"Universities therefore serve as critical catalysts in propelling nations to levels of irreversible development. They are centres of functional learning, places to acquire a skill and qualification while at the same time they comprise centres for a search for scientific truth and research and innovation," he said.
Tertiary institutions, Motlanthe said, must ensure that there is a fit between what is taught and learned in the classroom and what the economy needs.
"Higher education must make it possible for graduates to not simply 'fit' into existing or potential opportunities in the private, public and non-governmental sectors.
"It must make them trailblazers in their own right, so that they in turn become talents that help South Africa to become competitive in the global knowledge economy," he said.