Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng

Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng is a South African born Professor of Mathematics Education, B1 NRF-rated Scientist and international recognized Keynote Speaker.

She exceptionally served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) for 4 years and 7 months.

She began her term of office as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town on 1 July 2018, where she had been serving DVC for Research and Internationalization since January 2017.

Before then she served as Vice Principal for Research and Innovation at the University of South Africa for 5 years, after serving 3 years as Dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at the same university.

Under Prof. Phakeng’s leadership, University of Cape Town achieved remarkable results in various global rankings. Since 2019, for the first time in its 100+ years history, UCT was ranked number one in Africa in all five major world university rankings: QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, US News Best Global Universities Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking), and CWTS Leiden Ranking.

University of Cape Town also made its debut in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, where it was ranked number 39 in the world. This was a historic achievement for UCT and for South Africa, as it was the first time that an African university entered this prestigious ranking. Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from Wits University and is one of the leading scholars in mathematics education globally. She has been invited to deliver over 60 keynote talks at international conferences, and as a visiting professor in universities around the world.

Prof. Phakeng holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from Wits University and is one of the
leading scholars in mathematics education globally. She has been invited to deliver over 60 keynote
talks at international conferences, and as a visiting professor in universities around the world.

She has won many awards for her research and community work, including the Order of the Baobab
(Silver) conferred on her by the President of South Africa in April 2016. In August 2014, CEO magazine
named her the most influential woman academic in Africa; in 2020 she was included in Forbes’ inaugural
list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Africa.

Prof. Phakeng holds two honorary doctorates: Hon DSc from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom (2019) & Hon DEd from the University of Ottawa in Canada (2022). In September 2022, she was the inaugural winner of the prestigious Africa Education Medal. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) & fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in 2021.

Deputy Mother, as she is affectionately referred to by many young people across the African continent,
is an academic with a sharp social conscience and a philanthropist, who among other initiatives,
founded the Adopt-a-learner Foundation in 2004 which provides financial and educational support to
South African students from township and rural areas to acquire higher education qualifications.

When she took office in July 2018, Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng declined an inauguration ceremony in her
name and requested that the funds budgeted for the ceremony be set aside to pay off outstanding debt
for students who had completed their studies during 2015 – 2017 but were not able to graduate. Since
then, she donates 20% of her monthly salary and 100% of proceeds from her public speaking
engagements to scholarship funds administered by UCT. UCT was ranked as the Best in Africa for the
first time by all five major world university rankings.

In 2022, 78% of the members of the UCT Senate voted in favour of her to continue as Vice-Chancellor
for a second term, but she decided to take sabbatical & officially stepped down as Vice-Chancellor on 3
March 2023.

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