UCT vice-chancellor wins inaugural Africa Education Medal

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice Chancellor, UCT and winner of African Education Medal 2022

University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has been named the winner of the inaugural Africa Education Medal, launched this year by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Intel and Microsoft. The award recognizes an outstanding individual who has demonstrated impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of education.

The Africa Education Medal was founded to recognise the work of those change-makers who are transforming African education. Phakeng was chosen as the winner from among 10 finalists from across the continent including H.E Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania.

Expressing delight over her award, Professor  Phakeng said: “It is the greatest honour to be recognised for my life’s passion. 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.

The award recognises the impact of her work and leadership on the international stage. It follows on from her election to lead the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) from 2023 to 2025, her being awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Ottawa and her being Bristol University’s first Illustrious Visiting Professor.

Phakeng is among the world’s leading scholars in mathematics education, having become the first black female South African to achieve a PhD in Mathematics Education in 2002. In the two decades since, she has published more than 80 research papers and five edited volumes that continue 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.

Nominations for the Africa Education Medal opened in April 2022 for individuals working to improve basic and higher education who are educators, school administrators, civil society leaders, public servants, government officials, political leaders, technologists or innovators. The finalists were assessed by an international panel of judges against the criteria of advocacy, impact and leadership in furthering the goals of education on our continent.

Congratulating Professor Phakeng, Vikas Pota, the founder and CEO of T4 Education noted that, quality education will help African countries grow and prosper, he added  that  it will help Africa produce the public leaders of tomorrow who will go on to grapple with the continent’s greatest challenges from inequality, to climate change, food insecurity and disease.

Photo courtesy / Scidev

Article by Jedidah Mwangi