The South African Education Research Association is saddened to hear about the passing of Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo and we wish to express our condolences and share our deepest sympathies with his family, friends and colleagues
Prof Sechaba M. Geoffrey Mahlomaholo was the President of SAERA in 2016 and 2017 and has stood as a stalwart supporter of educational research within our community. As a much loved teacher and public figure his life exemplified the qualities of Educational Leadership and Learning in Higher Education.
He obtained his B.Ed from the University of the North (UNIN) now University of Limpopo. He then graduated with a M.Ed degree in Counselling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University. He then obtained his DEd with the University of Western Cape’s Goldfields Centre for Mathematics and Sciences Education in Bellville, Cape Town.
He was a C3-rated National Research Foundation Professor of Education, and was Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research at the Walter Sisulu University where he advocated that research conducted must be related to the problems and challenges that people experience in their everyday lives.
He was the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State, and the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning at the University of Zululand, where tributes have been paid to him as an exceptional academic.
He was a prolific researcher and published 50 peer reviewed and accredited articles and book chapters. He also edited four books published both nationally and internationally and successfully supervised 34 Masters and 24 PhD students.
He led the National Research Foundation (NRF)’s project on the creation of Sustainable Learning Environments in schools where 28 PhD and 22 MEd students participated under the guidance of 15 academics at the University of the Free State. In 2016 he was the finalist in the Professor Kader Asmal Excellence category of the National Teachers’ Awards. He also was a Council member of UMALUSI.
Through many papers and books he consistently argued that the goal of education is to encourage the creation of socially well-adjusted individuals through the promotion of critical thinking, lifelong learning and social practices for communal and national development to be able to positively transform society, because schools are social organizations where values are imparted.
He was a deeply respected and much loved post-apartheid organic intellectual who led our wider national scholarly community across different institutions in the process of knowledge building and in developing scholars to shape effective postgraduate learning environments.
Prof Sechaba as an engaged intellectual was deeply involved in the processes that he wrote about. As he declared in conclusion to a paper looking at postgraduate learning environments (Sechaba, 2015):
“We cannot blame the situation or the context or history anymore, because we are capable of interpretation and acting according to our own understanding of the situation. We can still create history even if this is not under conditions of our own choosing.”
His critical scholarship sought in different ways to respond to challenges inherent in curriculum inclusivity and decolonisation. He explored ways that curriculum inclusivity and decoloniality should work together to advance the agenda for a social justice project within education that advocates for the common goals of equity, cognitive justice, freedom, peace and hope through curriculum transformation.
Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo’s contributions to the field of education research are immense. His research work has been published in several national and international journals, and his books have been widely read and appreciated. His supervision of Masters and PhD students has helped shape the careers of many young researchers. His leadership in the NRF project on Sustainable Learning Environments has been instrumental in creating a better learning environment for students. His contributions to the South African Education Research Association and UMALUSI have been invaluable.
Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo’s legacy will continue to inspire generations of education researchers. His work has made a significant impact on the field of education research, and his contributions will be remembered for years to come. May his soul rest in peace.
Mahlomaholo, Sechaba, 2015, ‘Creating Effective Postgraduate Learning Environments: Analysis of an Intervention from Realist Social Theory’, Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 13, 1 & 2:229-243