Plenary Panel: Diverse Voices in Educational Research

 Tuesday, October 23rd 2018

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-SamuelMichael 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-BawaAhmed 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-GreenWhitty 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-McDonaldZahraa 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-NaidooLeigh-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-VolminkJohn 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.