Mamokgethi Phakeng


Mamokgethi Phakeng (formerly Setati) is full professor and Vice Principal of Research and Innovation at Unisa. On 1 July she will move to the University of Cape Town as the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation. She holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is a B2 NRF-rated scientist who is as passionate about research as she is about teaching and community engagement. She has been invited as a speaker and visiting professor at international conferences and universities in Australia, Botswana, Canada, Denmark, Finland, India, Italy, Kenya, Lesotho, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Senegal, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. She has won several awards for her research and community work, the latest being the Order of the Baobab, Silver, 2014 CEO magazine award for being the most influential woman in education and training (Academic) in Africa and the 2011 NSTF award for being the most outstanding Senior Black Female Researcher over the last 5 to 10 years in recognition of her innovative, quality research on teaching and learning mathematics in multilingual classrooms. Prof Phakeng was elected as a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) in November 2007; an honorary member of the Golden Key International Honour Society in May 2009 and an honorary life member of the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) in July 2009. In 2008 she became the first South African woman to be appointed to co-chair a study commissioned by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction. The study is entitled “mathematics and language diversity” and has just published an edited volume.

Kgethi, as she is affectionately known, is President of Convocation of Wits University, trustee of the FirstRand Foundation and member of the board of the CSIR. She has served as national president of the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) from 2002 to 2006, chairperson of the Board of the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) from 2005 to 2006 and secretary and member of the executive committee of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME) from 2003 to 2007.

She is the founder of the Adopt-a-learner Foundation (, 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 qualifications.