Profile Interview | Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

Mamokgethi Phakeng, popularly known as Kgethi chats to Phemelo Motene about academia, family and life.

Raised by her mother and grandmother, Mamokgethi says that her mother, who was a domestic worker at the time decided to go back to school to further her education.

Mamokgethi describes her mother as a woman who stands out, breaks boundaries and chooses to do the unthinkable even when she's faced with challenges.

My mother is so amazing that one day there was a television station that wanted to do a program on me. They interviewed other people who were connected to me and they started with her. After talking to her they phoned me and said we’ve got a better story.

Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation at UCT

Mamokgethi says that growing up with a mother that was studying created a learning culture in the household. Imitating her father, she states that he expected high performing children and there was no room for failure.

You better be excellent. Nobody fails a test in this house. Nobody fails a grade.

Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation at UCT

In school, Mamokgethi took the subject which made the most sense to her. She claims that she was bad at everything else except maths.

That’s what people don’t believe. It made sense to me. It felt like something that I could do. It was something that I never worried about.

Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation at UCT

Mamokgethi has a list of achievements that she has accomplished over the years.

With over 80 scientific research papers and five edited volumes published, Mamokgethi has been invited to deliver over 30 keynote/plenary talks at international conferences. She has won numerous awards for her research and community work, including the Order of the Baobab (Silver) conferred by the President of South Africa in April 2016.

She became the first South African black researcher to be appointed toco-chair, a study commissioned by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction in 2008. In 2007 she was elected as a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and CEO magazine named her the most influential woman academic in 2014,

To top it all off, Mamokgethi is the founder of the Adopt-a-learner Foundation (www.adopt-a-learner.com), a non-profit organisation that started in 2004 and provides financial and educational support to students from township and rural areas to acquire higher education. She also took over from Professor Danie Visser as the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Internationalisation at UCT last year.

Hear the full interview in the link below...


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