The oldest man to obtain a doctorate degree at UNISA says it was not easy – Rekord East

The oldest man to obtain a doctorate degree at Unisa has proved that despite various challenges, one is never too old to learn.

Retired academic and school principal, 91-year-old Andries Conradie, recently graduated at the ZK Matthews hall on the Unisa Pretoria campus, where he accepted his doctoral degree in literature and philosophy from the college of human sciences.

He said his journey to graduating was not the easiest for his age.

Conradie said he had been living with his only surviving child, Dr Alet Harmse, in Centurion since 2011, after his wife and son passed away.

He said being old and registered at Unisa for five years, manoeuvring from Centurion to the Unisa campus in Pretoria was a challenge.

“The challenges were so diverse and each of them called for a proper response.

“One challenge was that there is little public transport from Centurion to Unisa,” he said.

Conradie said he had to use public transport such as the bus within the city, trains and taxis.”

Another issue was suffering from slight hearing loss

However, this did not keep him from success as he completed his doctoral thesis this year with the title “The Bible as a problematic text – a critical analysis based on controversies in the Dutch Reformed Church”.

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“The use of the term ‘problematic’ can be explained in many ways. First of all, by the fact that Genesis 1 is obviously incompatible with 2 and 3,” he said.

Conradie said he was always interested in the bible and the Dutch Reformed Church after his wife passed away and he began more formal research and study into the bible.

He said the bible could be questioned in many ways as he had often encountered biblical questions, and it was normal to seek answers to some question.

He said that was when he decided to study the subject intensively and write his thesis on it.

Conradie said his thesis would not be the end of his “schooling”, as there was never an end to seeking knowledge.

“There is no sense in sitting back thinking that I have all the answers.”

“I went through a few graduation ceremonies before and received a master’s degree way back in 1967, which gave a feeling of achievement.”

He said he would now continue to follow up with more research on his thesis.

“I tried to take the doctorate in my stride regarding my thesis as a clear statement that may by followed up by what Hegel called an antithesis, which provided me with an opportunity to come up with a synthesis.”

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