Matlhape and Metcalfe vie for prestigious education accolade

SmartStart CEO Grace Matlhapeand and executive director of Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes Mary Matcalfe are among the top 10 finalists vying for the Africa Education Medal 2023.

Founded in 2022 by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Microsoft, the Africa Education Medal is Africa’s most prestigious education accolade.

It was established to recognise the tireless work of those who are transforming education across the continent, to celebrate the stories of those who have lit the spark of change so others will be inspired to take up the torch.

The award is given to an outstanding individual who has demonstrated impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of education.

SmartStart was founded in 2015 to address the problem that an estimated 1.24-million South African children between the ages of three and five do not attend an appropriate early learning programme.

Over 750 000 of these children are from impoverished communities, where affordability is a key consideration.

Matlhape has pioneered a community-centred approach to providing an affordable early learning programme that prepares young children for formal schooling.

Mayank Dhingra – senior education business leader: Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa at HP – congratulated Matlhape and Matcalfe on being named top 10 finalists. 

“Their tireless work to improve education stands as an inspiration to us all and I hope many others will follow in their footsteps to become leaders in the field. HP has a bold goal to accelerate digital equity for 150-million people globally by 2030,” said Dhingra.

“Only by joining forces and aligning with NGOs [non-government organisations], government, educators and businesses can we truly improve the education environment.

“The Africa Education Medal brings together all those who are changing the face of African education, whose vital work deserves to be celebrated.”

Vikas Pota, founder and CEO of T4 Education, said teachers and school leaders, as well as the continent’s leaders of governments, NGOs and businesses, all play a crucial part in unlocking the Africa’s potential through quality education. 

“African education stands at a crossroads in the wake of the pandemic, but if leaders from across the continent in every field can work together, then they can build the lasting change needed,” said Pota.

“I congratulate Grace Matlhape and Mary Metcalfe on their achievements, and I hope their success serves as a rallying cry for changemakers to come forward and make a difference.”


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