#WomenUnlocked: Why education matters to Vice Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng

#WomenUnlocked: Why education matters to Vice Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng

When we are young we are taught that in order to make a success of yourself, you have to empower yourself. One of those ways is through education.

Mamokgethi Phakeng

In a country like South Africa, where the equality field is so uneven, a higher form of education being the only means of success is simply unfair. 

The vice chancellor of the number one university in South Africa, Mamokgethi Phakeng, is a woman who is driven by her passion for education. She believes that education still matters and that we as a country need to do better to ensure that irrespective of ones financial background, they should be afforded the opportunity to seek a higher education. 

Mamokethu Phakeng
Mamokethi Phakeng Instagram

Phakeng knows from first-hand experience what the challenges are for those who want to seek a higher education. She, herself, was born into humble beginings in Ga-Rankuwa in Pretoria. She did not grow up in a well-off family but her drive and love of wanting to empower herself further drove her to what can only be described as an illustrious and internationally-recognised career. 

Some of her achievements include being the first black woman to earn her PhD in mathematics education in 2002, and she led the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (Amesa) as its first female national president from 2002 to 2006. Mamokgethi is also one of only two black women to take on the position of vice-chancellor at Africa’s number one ranked tertiary institution. 

Her road to success was not easy, however. Phakeng often shares her failures on social media, in order to motivate and encourage those who often struggle with their studies: 

Mamokgethi's tenure as vice chancellor at The University of Cape Town has not come without some difficulties. Of late, she was and still is shocked by the brutal murder of UCT student Uyinene. 

Read: Blood found in post office where Uyinene's alleged killer worked

Uyinene was raped and killed inside a Cape Town post office in 2019. The man who was accused of raping and killing her was handed three life sentences. 

Phakeng shared in part the following statement when the news first made headlines in South Africa and internationally: 

The tragic killing of the student also raised alarm bells when it comes to the safety of women at their places of learning, even though Uyinene was not murdered at the university. 

In an interview that discusses the importance of education and why it still matters, leveling the equality field when it comes to who has access to this education, and the safety of young girls and women at educational institutes, Mamokgethi chats to Stacey.

Listen to the inspirational and enlightening interview below: 

For more from #Stacey&JSbu, check out past episodes below:

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