'We should focus on the kind of values we inculcate in students'

The University of Cape Town's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng asked that funds meant for her inauguration ceremony, be used instead to pay off outstanding fees for students who completed their degrees from 2015 to 2017.

Phakeng has raised R5 million to pay off the debts of over a hundred students, but says much more is needed.

She explains her decision to Joanne Joseph on Afternoon Drive.

I have checked the data from 2010 and we needed about R16 million to rescue all the students and it was not possible, I could raise R5 million.

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town

I thought I can sleep better with myself if my entrance into office is done in a way that communicates who I am. Think about it, if you are a mother and have children, you would not throw a party with one of your children's school fees not paid, it is a similar principle for me.

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town

I had to stand my ground to say this is not who I am, I don't want a party but at the same time there are students who have completed and have not been able to graduate.

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town

Phakeng says some students owe amounts of up to R20 0000.

On her time in office so far, the Vice-Chancellor says she has been challenging her colleagues to think about the kind of graduates they are producing.

We should focus not only on making sure that they are technically and intellectually prepared but we should also focus on the values that we inculcate. Values, you do not always find them in books, you find them in the culture of the institution.

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town

My view is that this gesture, even though it has not been able to cover all the students, is one that says here students you have a leader who is willing to forgo an inauguration for something that she stands for and so this is what you can do.

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town

Click on the link below to hear more from the Vice-Chancellor....


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