By Elizabeth Osayande
American tv host, Oprah Winfrey has congratulated the winner of the maiden Africa education medal, the Vice Chancellor, VC, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng.
The inaugural Africa education medal, launched this year by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Intel and Microsoft, saw Prof. Phakeng clinged the prize out of 10 finalists that included two Nigerians: chief executive officer, CEO, Teach For Nigeria, Folawe Omikunle, and the founder and CEO of Comic Republic, Jide Martin.
The VC, University of Cape Town, a professor of Mathematics according to the organisers of the award, has shown exemplary leadership in her field, with her research illuminating how learners and parents are positioned in and by the power of English. Her work explored practices in mathematics learning that harness learners’ spoken languages while developing their mathematical English.
Meanwhile, Winfrey praised Prof. Phakeng for her leadership qualities that earned her the award.
Her words: “Congratulations to you, Professor, on being named the winner of the Africa Education Medal. It’s an honour recognising leaders who are making a positive impact on education. I don’t know anyone who deserves it more, because I’ve witnessed first hand through your support of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa how your vision and your passion and your commitment has made such a difference in the lives of so 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.”Winfrey noted.
Congratulating the winner of the maiden Africa education medal, VP and Managing Director, HP Africa, Brad Pulford, stated that :“Professor 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. 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 reiterated.
On his part , Founder and CEO of T4 Education, Vikas Pota 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.
To the winner, Africa education medal, Pota said:” Congratulations to Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, a great example of someone working every day to make that access to quality education a reality. I have no doubt leaders from across Africa will be inspired to follow in her footsteps.” He explained. l
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.”VC University of Cape Town advised.
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.