Category: Conference

SAERA-conference 2020 message in light of COVID-19/coronavirus


Dear SAERA members

It is very unfortunate to find ourselves in yet another pandemic context that has the potential to impact on society in a very large scale. We, as SAERA executives, do hope that you take the necessary precautions as you go about your daily work and social engagement with colleagues, family and friends.

The executive of SAERA were in on-going conversations on the coronavirus, especially as it relates to the activities of SAERA, more especially on the planned annual conference usually held in October. At this stage of our conversation we believe that the membership of SAERA should be informed of our initial thinking which includes no formal decisions being made at this point regarding the October 2020 annual conference and that there will be on-going communication with the membership. An executive meeting is being planned shortly where discussions will take place on the conference and decisions will be formulated to sent to the entire membership of SAERA.

All the best and stay well

Labby Ramrathan
SAERA President

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SAERA PhD and Honour awards

Nominations for the SAERA PhD and Honour awards are open. Find the information to nominate someone or read more about these awards below:

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New publication

Human Rights Literacies

Future Directions

Editors: Roux, Cornelia, Becker, Anne (Eds.)

This book adds impetus to the nexus between human rights, human rights education and material reality. The dissonance between these aspects is of growing concern for most human rights educators in various social contexts.

The first part of the book opens up new discourses and presents new ontologies and epistemologies from scholars in human rights, human rights education and human rights literacies to critique and/or justify the understandings of human rights’ complex applications.

Today’s rapidly changing social contexts and new languages attempting to understand ongoing dehumanization and violations, put enormous pressure on higher education, educators, individuals working in social sciences, policy makers and scholars engaged in curricula making. The second part demonstrates how global interactions between citizens from different countries with diverse understandings of human rights (from developed and developing democracies) question the link between human rights and it’s in(ex)clusive Western philosophies.

Continuing inhumane actions around the globe reflect the failure of human rights law and human rights education in schools, higher education and society at large. The book shows that human rights education is no longer a blueprint for understanding human rights and its universal or contextual values presented for multicomplexial societies.

The final chapters argue for new ontologies and epistemologies of human rights, human rights education and human rights literacies to open-up difficult conversations and to give space to dissonant and disruptive discourses. The many opportunities for human rights education and literacies lies in these conversations.

Read more:

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PLENARY PANEL: TUESDAY OCTOBER 23rd 2018 How sustainable and viable is multilingualism for higher education purposes in South Africa?

The realisation of Constitutional provisions as regards the use of all eleven languages for education, remain a mirage in South Africa. Recent judgments regarding languages for teaching and learning, as media of instruction, in the context of Unisa and the UFS seem to prophecy a monolingual higher education context in which English becomes a hegemonic language in the absence of viable alternatives. Furthermore, those alternatives are neither desired in terms of African language speakers themselves, or are resisted in terms of the use of a language like Afrikaans. In both the court judgments the education merits of multilingualism are lost and in the media the political and ideological positions dominate. This panel will debate the issues and consider how we move beyond the impasse.

PANEL CHAIR: Robert Balfour

Robert Balfour is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at the North-West University. After being awarded a Commonwealth Trust Scholarship in 1997, he completed his doctoral degree in English language at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. He held fellowships at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, Clare Hall at Cambridge University, and the Institute of Education at the University of London. His previous book on literary-cultural studies Culture Capital and Representation (with Palgrave, 2010) was received with critical acclaim. In 2015 the book, Education in a new South Africa: crisis and change was published by CUP.  He is a C2 NRF rated researcher. In 2011 he was appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Education Sciences on the Potchefstroom Campus of NWU, and led the restructuring of the Faculty in 2013, and from 2016-2017 led the Education Joint Executive Task Team (Edu-JET) as Coordinating Dean responsible for the planning and transition towards an integrated single-Faculty structure for the three campuses of the NWU, Besides being an applied linguist, postcolonial literary critic and educationist, Balfour is an exhibited painter.


Susan Coetzee-Van Rooy is the deputy dean: research and innovation in the  faculty of humanities at the North-West University. She is also professor of English and a researcher in the research focus area Understanding and Processing Language in complex settings (UPSET). Susan holds a C1 rating from the NRF, and is currently also chairperson of a number of rating panels for the NRF. Her research considers why and when people choose to use particular languages, and how they combine their different languages to perform different functions in their private and public lives, and before that, how they come to learn particular languages, and how they perceive their proficiencies in their various languages.


Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty a PhD from the University of London. She has been a Visiting Scholar at SOAS, University of London, University of Guadalahara, Mexico, Wilfred Laurier University, Ontario, Canada and Dalian Maritime University, China. She currently holds the Research chair for Early Childhood Development and Education at North-West University. Her publications focus on multilingualism, language acquisition, language teaching and language policy. She is currently interested in language education and  cognitive development and how learners navigate their developmental path in linguistically complex learning environments.


Mbulungeni Madiba is an Associate Professor and Deputy Dean in the Centre of Higher Education Development (CHED) at the University of Cape Town. He is a Mandela Fellow at Harvard University and an Oppenheimer Fellow at the University of London. He obtained his MA in African Languages and DLit et Phil in Linguistics at the University of South Africa. His main areas of research are language planning and policy, politics of language, language education, multilingual higher education and concept literacy. He has published widely on language planning and policy and multilingualism in South Africa.



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PLENARY PANEL: TUESDAY OCTOBER 23rd 2018 Diverse voices in educational research

 At the last 2017 SAERA conference, a critique was raised that the SAERA organisation and its conference needed to hear a more diverse range of voices about educational research, other than that of seasoned academics/ researchers/ experienced supervisors/ lecturers/specific institutional types, and to look at alternative formats to how conferences can be run to accommodate a more “social justice agenda”. The perspective (largely) of postgraduate students, was tabled at the SAERA Exec who asked the SAERA conference planners to consider hearing a more diverse set of perspectives about educational research from a broader range of stakeholders within the conference. Some of these matters have been addressed in the present conference: there is now a  developmental workshop for postgraduate students; the conference is being located to a “more affordable venue”; an invitation has been sent to UOTs’ Deans of Education to submit abstracts; the notices for conference have gone to all higher education institutions nation-wide; there are regional activities to decentralise the visibility of the organisation; more local than international speakers have been selected as plenary inputs; etc…. However, the panel is geared to reflect on what has been achieved to date in hearing the diverse voices of educational researchers, and what more still needs to be done.  The executive committee has considered that it might be useful to hear perspectives from a range of stakeholders about how they conceptualise the kinds of research (substantive content and form) that should be done by educational researchers within and outside university structures. Comments are  invited also about what shape and form conferencing about educational research in the specific South African    context should take. The panel members will each present a short input (+/-8minutes each) followed by a plenary discussion with conference delegates. This panel might be a useful opportunity to put in dialogue how educational research is viewed from multiple vantage points in order to promote a collaborative space for sharing interests and perspectives.

PANEL CHAIR: Michael Samuel

Michael Samuel is a Professor in the School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He holds  a Doctorate in Education from the University of Durban-Westville which focuses on a Force field model of teacher development. He has served as a curriculum designer of innovative masters and collaborative doctoral cohort programmes locally and internationally. He has also been a member of the Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education assisting the development of national teacher education policy in South Africa. He has served as Dean (Faculty of Education, UKZN). His research interest focuses on teacher professional development, higher education, life history and narrative inquiry. His book, Life history research: Epistemology, methodology and representation has inspired several studies of professional development in education and the health sciences. Continuity, complexity and change: Teacher education in Mauritius, explores the challenges and possibilities facing a small island in negotiating its presence in global and international discourse of comparative higher education and teacher education. His new book Disrupting higher education curriculum: Undoing cognitive damage explores options for imaginative redirection of higher education curriculum design. He has recently contributed to an international emergent discourse on the role of small islands developing states focusing on global partnerships for higher education research written collaboratively with a colleague in Mauritius where he runs a doctoral programme. He is the recipient of the Turquoise Harmony Institute’s National Ubuntu Award for Contribution to Education.


Ahmed Bawa currently holds the position of Chief Executive Officer of Universities South Africa (USAf). Until the end of April 2016, he was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Durban University of Technology. Before that, he was a faculty member at Hunter College in the City University of New York as well as Associate Provost for Curriculum Development at Hunter College. He has led and coordinated the Ford Foundation’s African Higher Education Initiative. Ahmed Bawa holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Durham, in the UK.  He was an inaugural member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa as well as the Academy of Science of South Africa.


Whitty Green is Chief-Director for Teaching and Learning Development in the South African Department of Higher Education and Training, and leads the work of the Department in respect of supporting the development of a university-based teacher education system that is able to produce sufficient numbers of high quality teachers for all   education sub—sectors; developing, implementing and monitoring policy and programmes to support and oversee the Department’s University Capacity Development Programme; and development of a coordinated system for the management of international postgraduate scholarship partnerships. Dr Green was formerly a school teacher, teacher training college lecturer and university academic.


Zahraa McDonald is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for International Teacher Education (CITE) at CPUT. She holds a PhD from the University of  Johannesburg that examines Islamic Education and post-secular citizenship in South Africa. Her thesis has been published titled Expressing post-secular citizenship: A madrasa, an ethic and comprehensive doctrine. She has completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stellenbosch University and UCT in the areas of citizenship education and religion education. Her current research interests are student teachers experiences of teacher education. In particular how this field may contribute understanding education systems and how individuals are authorised to legitimate literacy, knowledge and power.


Leigh-Ann Naidoo was raised in an anti-apartheid activist home, surrounded by radicals who taught her from a very young age the value of critique and radical praxis. She trained as a physical education and history teacher at the University of the Western Cape. Leigh-Ann worked at Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism at Wits University  and in 2013 she completed an MEd on the role of radical pedagogy in the South African Student Organisation and the Black Consciousness Movement of the 1970s. She joined the UCT School of Education in 2017. Her research interests are in education and social justice, social movements as sites of knowledge production, the roles of education in  resistance movements.


John Volmink completed a PhD in mathematics education at Cornell University, Ithaca NY in 1988. John served as Campus Vice-Principal at the then University of Natal, Durban and later Pro-Vice Chancellor for Partnerships at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has also been centrally involved in curriculum reform in post-apartheid South Africa and has been asked by all four Ministers of Education to play a leading role in the transformation of education in the new South Africa. He served for four years (2006 -2010) as the Chairperson of Umalusi Council, and is now serving a third term as Chair of Council. In 2016 he served as the Interim Vice-Chancellor of the Durban University of Technology and also Acting Vice-Chancellor at CPUT in 2017.


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PLENARY PANEL: MONDAY OCTOBER 22nd 2018 The curriculum knowledge imperative in South African education


The politics of knowledge in South African universities recently witnessed a radical discursive rupture. The call for decolonising education has been the cornerstone of the students’ recognition struggles at universities. Mobilising on the basis of their demand for free education, students across the university sector articulated the need for change in university knowledge and curricula in the light of what they described as their exposure to Eurocentric, racist and sexist knowledge at untransformed institutions. They argued that such a knowledge orientation is at the heart of their experience of alienation at the university. They suggested that only the complete overhaul of the curriculum on the basis of a decolonising education approach would provide them the type of educational access that addresses their emerging African- centred humanness. This panel will work with / against the call for decolonising education which has raised fundamental questions about reframing the purposes of education. Centring Africa-centric epistemology is at the heart of this educational reframing. The panel will consider languages of description to inform curriculum knowledge selection in educational contexts.  In other words, the debate will centre on the bases on which curricula in universities, schools and colleges are constituted.  The panel is based on the view that a decolonial politics of knowledge, despite some limited activity at a few universities to develop decolonial curricular approaches, operates at the level of symbols and politics. Instead, the debate should turn to considerations about the terms of the curriculum veracity of a decolonial approach. The panel discussion therefore shifts the focus to what counts as curriculum knowledge based on decoloniality, and the conceptual bases on which university departments, programmes and courses would  organise their curriculum knowledge assemblages based on such an approach.

PANEL CHAIR: Aslam Fataar

Aslam Fataar is currently a distinguished professor in the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town. He completed a PhD in 1999 and served as a Visiting Professor at Ohio University in the USA in 1999.  He completed a Fulbright Research Scholarship at Illinois University, USA  from August 2005 until June 2006. Aslam specialises in education policy the sociology of urban education. His first published book (2010) focuses on ‘Education Policy Development in the South African transition: 1990-1997’, His second book, published in 2015, is titled ’Engaging Schooling Subjectivities across Post-Apartheid Urban Spaces’. He has recently developed a focus on the sociology of curriculum. He has edited one book (2018), co-edited 6 books, and published more than 80 academic articles and chapters. He does active service work on two UNESCO commissions, one is the UNESCO Country Commission on educational development in Southern Africa, and the other is the Global City Network initiative based in Hamburg.  He held a B3 rating between 2009 and 2015, and currently rated as C1.


Lesley Le Grange is Distinguished Professor at Stellenbosch University. He is a former Vice-Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Education and teaches and researches in the fields of environmental education, research methodology, science education, curriculum studies, higher education studies and assessment. He has 205 publications to his credit and serves on editorial boards of eight peer-reviewed journals. He is a chairperson of the Accreditation Committee and member of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education in South Africa. He is Vice-President of the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (IAACS) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (UK).


Simphiwe Sesanti is an Associate Professor at the University of South Africa (Unisa)’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies (IARS), and deputy editor of the International Journal of African Renaissance Studies (IJARS). His PhD (Journalism Studies) was obtained at Stellenbosch University where he taught for 7 years in the Department of Journalism. He has also taught in the Department of Journalism, Media and Philosophy at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He has published in accredited journals on a variety of issues, including gender, African philosophy, journalism and religion. He is an author of two books, a co-editor of one book, and a contributor of chapters in a number of books. In 2018 he was awarded an NRF rating, C2.


Stephanie Matseleng Allais is the SARCHi Research Chair of Skills Development at the Centre for Researching Education and Labour (REAL) at Wits University. Her research is in the sociology and political economy of education, curriculum, and policy, focused on relationships between education and work. Prior to joining Wits University she was a fellow at the Centre for Educational Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. Before this she managed and conducted research into qualifications frameworks in 16 countries for the International Labour Organization.



Wayne Hugo is an associate professor at UKZN. He is   currently recovering from a bout of writing that resulted in four books by travelling around Africa, exploring disruptive education technologies, trying to get a handle on what to do about the massive demand for worthwhile education from our youth in a world gone awry.





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