BusinessDay

Oprah Winfrey commends winner of Africa Education Medal award

Top American television personality, Oprah Winfrey has congratulated Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, for winning the inaugural Africa Education Medal New award.

The award founded in 2022 by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Intel and Microsoft, selected Phakeng for her impact, leadership and advocacy in the field of African education.

Speaking after Mamokgethi Phakeng was named the winner, Oprah Winfrey said it was an honour to recognise leaders who are making a positive impact on education.

According to her, nobody deserves the award more than the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

“I have witnessed firsthand through your support of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa how your vision, passion and commitment have made a difference in the lives of many students. I honour the vital work that you do in education and I celebrate you as a forward-thinking, visionary leader for such a time as this. Congratulations, and blessings on your life,” she said.

Phakeng, a professor was chosen as the winner from among 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal from across the continent including H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania.

Brad Pulford, vice president and managing director, HP Africa, in his congratulatory message, said Mamokgethi Phakeng’s drive and leadership in transforming education across Africa and beyond stand as a shining example to others all over the continent.

“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 NGOs, government, educators and businesses we can make bold moves towards improving the education environment.

Read also: Two Nigerians named among 10 finalists for Africa Education Medal

“A quality education empowers not just individuals, but entire communities. It will skill the next generation to fulfil their full potential in a world being transformed by technology,” Pulford.

Vikas Pota, founder and CEO of T4 Education, said quality education will help African countries grow and prosper, adding 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.

“Congratulations to 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,” Pota said.

On her part, Mamokgethi Phakeng said it was the greatest honour to be recognised for one’s life passion, adding that quality education is the key to Africa’s future.

She thanked HP, Intel and Microsoft for the award, which she believed will inspire others across the African 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.

Mamokgethi Phakeng is among the world’s leading scholars in Mathematics education. Growing up in rural and township South Africa during Apartheid, she became the first black female South African to obtain a PhD in Mathematics Education in 2002.

She has published more than 80 research papers and five edited volumes that continue to shape Mathematics education in classrooms across Africa and far 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.

Her research and community work have won her many prestigious awards, not least the Order of the Baobab (Silver) conferred on her by the President of South Africa in April 2016.

The winner of the Africa Education Medal was chosen by a jury comprising prominent individuals based on rigorous criteria from among 10 finalists.

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