Dr Nyameka Kangela and her academic achievements are the embodiment of black excellence, a value which her father instilled in her at a young age.
Today, at the age of 48, Nyameka has graduated with a PhD in Mathematics Education from Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape, and her vision is to extend her standards of black excellence to others.
She was born in Ziphunzana, a township in the Eastern Cape that was not without its fair share of social problems, and her parents sacrificed the little that they had to put her and her four sisters through school.
“My plan is to make an impact in the teaching and learning of mathematics, particularly in rural areas in the Eastern Cape Province,” she says.
“I also want to look at teacher development. I want to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics in the Eastern Cape.”
Nyameka tells DRUM that the journey to get her PHD was not easy; six years were dedicated to her studies where she began as a Bachelor of Science Student in applied mathematics and mathematical statistics at the University of Transkei.
She went on to the University of Western Cape to obtain Higher Diploma in Education and a Bachelor of Education, before taking up the call in an advert to do her Master’s in Education at Wits University.
She decided to do her PhD at Rhodes University to be closer to her family.
“I am a wife and mother of three children and I wanted to see my children play, support them emotionally and be there when they do their homework, so at Rhodes I could visit home on weekends,” she said.
It would have all been impossible had it not been for the support of her loving husband, Luvuyo, who stood by her as she conquered every academic dream.
“My husband is wonderful and supportive. He once came across my personal diary where I had written that I would like to do my PHD one day, and when I approached he said yes,” she says.
“It’s not easy for any husband to do that, he did his best to be there for the children. He supported me emotionally and financially.”
Her goal is to present her thesis to the Eastern Cape Department of Education so that she can begin her programme in improving the teaching of mathematics in the rural areas.
“I want to motivate and inspire teachers to understand their value as educators and to be the best maths teachers as possible,” she says.
“Maths and science are gateway subjects, in order for us to choose careers. We are educated to solve problems, and maths helps you solve problems of our time. If we don’t produce excellent maths and science students, chances are that we will not have people who can make an impact in the economic growth of our country.”
Hats off to Nyameka and other graduates as Universities go through their graduation season.
South Africa has great prospects to look forward to if our universities continue to develop black academics with the vision to change and uplift South
Left: Nyameka Kangela, her daughter Thubelihle (middle) and husband Luvuyo (right) were present at her graduation
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