Cape Town Varsity VC, Phakeng Wins Inaugural Africa Education Medal

Mamokgethi Phakeng

Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, has won the inaugural Africa Education Medal for her impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of African education.

The award was launched this year by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Intel and Microsoft. Phakeng emerged winner among 10 finalists across the continent including two inspirational Nigerians, Chief Executive Officer of Teach For Nigeria, Folawe Omikunle and Founder, Comic Republic, Jide Martin.

The Africa Education Medal was founded to recognise the work of those changemakers who are transforming education in the region. Data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) showed that sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of education exclusion in the world.

According to reports, over one-fifth of children between ages six and 11 are out of school, with girls, particularly, disadvantaged.

However, tireless international efforts have seen Africa make great strides in boosting enrolment over the years leading up to the pandemic.

By celebrating the stories of those working every day to expand upon these vital gains, the award was aimed at inspiring others to follow in their footsteps and bring lasting change in African education.

Phakeng is among the world’s leading scholars in mathematics education. In the last two decades, she has published more than 80 research papers and five edited volumes that have continued to shape mathematics education in classrooms across Africa and beyond.

Her research focuses on language practices in multilingual mathematics classrooms and has proved influential in post-colonial Africa and post-Apartheid South Africa in particular.

Vice President and Managing Director, HP Africa, Brad Pulford, congratulated the winner, saying Phakeng’s drive and leadership in transforming education across Africa and beyond stand as a shining example to others all over the continent.

According to Pulford, “we at HP can only echo her passion for empowering learners. From a business community perspective, we have a bold goal to enable better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025. Only by joining forces between non-governmental organisations, government, educators and businesses can we make bold moves towards improving the education environment. A quality education empowers not just individuals, but entire community.”

Founder and CEO of T4 Education, Vikas Pota, said: “Quality education will help African countries grow and prosper. And it will help Africa produce leaders of tomorrow who will go on to grapple with the continent’s greatest challenges, from inequality to climate change, food insecurity and disease.

“Congratulations to Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, a great example of someone working every day to make that vision a reality. I have no doubt leaders from across Africa will be inspired to follow in her footsteps.”

For elated Phakeng: “Quality education is the key to Africa’s future and I’m so grateful to HP, Intel and Microsoft for this award that I hope will inspire others across our continent to further the cause of African education.”

Nominations for the Africa Education Medal opened in April 2022 for individuals working to improve pre-kindergarten, K-12, vocational and university education who are either educators, school administrators, civil society leaders, public servants, government officials, political leaders, technologists, or innovators.

The winner was chosen from among 10 finalists based on rigorous criteria by a Jury comprising prominent individuals.

The Guardian

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