Not all is lost yet for maths whizz kid Sibahle Zwane

Maths whizz kid Sibahle Zwane has possibly reached a dead-end to his opportunity to join the UCT Online High School after the departure of former University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng, his mother, Mbalenhle, told Sunday World this week.

Mbali said she was saddened by the news that the professor had left the university shortly after giving them the hope that Sibahle would have a better education after Curro Academy dumped him.

“Professor Phakeng was on the lookout for Sibahle after seeing a viral video of him doing his mathematics, she was impressed and wanted him to join the UCT Online High School. This revived our hope for Sibahle’s better education, and when I heard she was not part of UCT [anymore], I really became sad,” said Mbalenhle.

“It sometimes feels like when someone tries to give him a chance, something bad happens. Like when he was at Curro and suddenly he was said to be autistic, then he had to leave the school.

“At times, I would think he feels like he does not fit anywhere, because he is a clever child but losing out on opportunities.”

The hopeful mother said she was still waiting for an update from Phakeng, stating that she would appreciate if there was something she could still do.

However, she said she would still understand if Phakeng’s hands were tied “at this point as she might be having a lot on her hands now”.

Speaking on behalf of Phakeng, Penuel Nkosi said they had a meeting with Mbalenhle in 2022 and she did not have, at the time, her son’s report for 2021. That made it impossible to have Sibahle apply for a place in the school.

However, they advised her to apply using the June 2022 report and she said she would give an update after applying online while Phakeng offered to pay the application fee.

“I followed up with Sibahle’s mom about the application on the 26th of July 2022 and she responded on the 31st indicating that she has filled in her details but needs to attach supporting documents,” said Nkosi.

He said they have also been waiting on her to respond on the matter so they could process the application fee.

“Prof Phakeng is still willing to pay for Sibahle’s UCT Online High School fees. However, considering that we are no longer at the university, it would be impossible for us to get involved in the application process, particularly given the tensions between her and the university.

“It would have been much easier last year, because I knew who to contact internally to assist if not Prof Phakeng directly.

“The way forward for now is for Mbali to apply at the UCT Online High School and inform me once she is done so I can process the payment of the application fee.”

Nkosi said the professor was unemployed and did not know when and where her next payment would come from. This has pressured her to find means to help her foundation, Adopt-A-Learner, survive.

He said this highlights that Phakeng was in no way able to help pay for any private school more expensive than UCT Online High School.

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