Education activist celebrates first black woman to obtain a PhD in Applied Data Science

Dr Khensani Xivuri. Picture: UJ

Dr Khensani Xivuri. Picture: UJ

Published Mar 25, 2024


Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said the country needed to invest in maths education for the general well-being of youth.

Makaneta said this while congratulating Dr Khensani Xivuri for being the first black woman in South Africa to obtain a PhD in Applied Data Science.

He said her achievement took place at a time when the country was facing a shortage of data scientists.

“These are skills necessary for the country as we grapple with the changing landscape of the world of work. There is no doubt that the jobs that exist today will become obsolete in the near future.

“Hence, we need more and more people to study in the field of data science, which has a solid foundation in maths, statistics, artificial intelligence and computer engineering.

“South Africa is also lacking in the field of innovation. As activists in the terrain of education, we wish to encourage the youth of South Africa to follow the path that was taken by Dr Xivuri with a view to creating a better future for themselves and for the country,” the education activist added.

Makaneta said it was not fair for children to choose “low-hanging fruits” when it came to careers: this would lead to joblessness.

“The fact that we are sitting with many graduates in the long queue of unemployment simply means that most of the qualifications are saturated and that there is an oversupply in those study fields.

“Therefore, institutions of learning should step in by creating an enabling environment for young people to choose wisely.

“Our biggest challenge as a country is to fix the education system. Central to this is to give proper focus in the foundation phase, because if our foundation is weak, there is no way we can produce high calibre graduates,” he emphasised.

Makaneta said the country’s education was proactive when it came to problem solving, adding that it often wanted to change the outcome instead of working on changing the input.

“The input leads to the output. The roots lead to fruits. It can’t be correct to take the approach of trying to change the fruit as we are currently doing.”

In quoting Dr Xivuri, the activist said she wanted to assist other students in their different stages of development. He concluded by saying that as the organisation, they took pride in the great work of Dr Xivuri and hoped that many more women follow in her great path.

Dr Xivuri is from the village of Peninghotsa, Malamulele, in Limpopo. Her path to success was marked by determination and perseverance. Her journey serves as a testament to the power of resilience and the pursuit of one’s dreams against all odds.

Dr Stella Bvuma, director of the School of Consumer Intelligence and Information Systems at the University Johannesburg, described Dr Xivuri’s achievement as “embodying the essence of shattering barriers”.

“Her accomplishment surpasses mere academic triumph; it embodies the essence of shattering barriers and paving the way for forthcoming generations. In an era increasingly reliant on data and technology, experts like Khensani serve as invaluable assets, adept at navigating the digital terrain with confidence and profound knowledge.”

The Star