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Prof Raj Mestry

Prof Raj Mestry
Department of Education Leadership and Management

Contact Details
B Ring 425-A / RS 234
+27 11 559 2683 / 5248
Auckland Park / Soweto

Prof Raj Mestry has co-authored several books and chapters with international collaborators and has published numerous articles in local and international accredited journals. In 2012, the Education Association of South Africa awarded him the Research Medal for his research contribution to education. Two of his students were recipients of the Vice Chancellor’s award for the best M Ed results in 2007 and 2012. He served on the South African Journal of Education’s editorial board and was co-editor of a special issue on Instructional Leadership in Education as Change. In 2013 he contributed the highest research output in the Faculty. He currently serves on the executive of the Education Association of South Africa.

Prof Raj Mestry combines his expertise in the discourses of financial management and women education leadership and this reflected in two major research projects that he is currently project leader of: Social justice and equity in funding public schools and women leadership in education. These research projects are pertinent are funded by both, the National Research Foundation and University of Johannesburg.

Through several publications in national and internal journals with high impact factors, and a chapter in an international book on social justice, a significant contribution has been made to deepen the understanding of how historically disadvantaged schools are coping with limited resources in their quest to provide quality education. The research findings have been disseminated at national and internal conferences such as BELMAS (UK) and EASA (national) and have sparked debated among policymakers and academics in the education arena. PhD and Masters’ students have undertaken an in-depth study and have found that although great strides have been taken by the government to address issues of social justice and equity, learners in many historically disadvantaged schools are still performing poorly.

The research study on women leadership is jointly undertaken with a highly acclaimed international researcher, Michele Schmidt from Simon University of Canada. This study deals with women leadership in education and highlights the obstacles and barriers that female school leaders experience in their day-to-day engagement with relevant stakeholders. Articles have been published in reputable international journal and papers have been presented at the American Research Education Association (AERA) Annual Meeting and the Oxford University Women in Leadership Symposium. Currently four PhD and one M Ed students are conducting research on the experiences of female principals and district officials, especially on how female leaders are negotiating obstacles and barriers in their working place.

My philosophy of teaching draws from several research and philosophical traditions, as well as from my teaching experience. The philosophy of especially Vygotsky and Tony Bush guides my teaching and research in the field of financial and human resource management in education. The best way of describing my teaching philosophy is to use the notion of a journey. Whether I work with students at the beginning of their formal studies or near the end or anywhere in between, often the goals and tools needed for the eventual successful completion of this journey are the same: commitment, resilience, interest and the realization that the journey never ends. I see teaching as two processes: translation and transformative. When both are in harmony and in balance (equilibrium), they yield teaching that is scholarly, vibrant, and pulsating with life. The translation process consists of students having access to the field of Financial Management and Human Resource Management in Education, reading text in both these fields, so that they not only understand concepts but the laws that permeate interaction. Knowledge of both the fields does not, by itself, make a master teacher. I must strive to achieve pedagogical mastery, the knowledge of how to translate the concepts and theories of the fields in terms of what can be understood by our students. Translation is a process that leads to understanding. It is necessary for learning but not sufficient for life-long learning. The process captures the crux of the discipline. Through the transformation process, I allow students to see the world through their special lenses, they perceive its connectedness with everything that exists. They not only read the text, they create new text by incorporating the concepts and theories of the field of Financial and Human Resource Management into their practical and intellectual lives. They learn to love the field of Financial and Human Resource Management. Translation leads to understanding, transformation leads to life-long learning.  Lifelong learning can be described as an “all purposeful” learning activity, undertaken on ongoing basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence, and that such learning promotes employability and active citizenship and helps combat social exclusion.  I seek, in scholarly teaching, for myself and my students, to master the integration of both fields. Unless students have engaged critically with texts, or even take some texts into systematic controversy, or perhaps articulated coherent arguments in justification of their points of view, these students cannot be said to have learnt.​

Highest qualification

Degree:   D Ed        
Institution:   Rand Afrikaans University        
Title: Dr        
Supervisor: Prof BR Grobler 

Research information

Current research interests

Social Justice and Equity: Financial Management; Women Leadership

List of publications from 2012 to 2014

Mestry, R. 2014. A critical analysis of the National Norms and Standards for School Funding Policy: Implications for social justice and equity in South Africa. Education Management, Administration & Leadership

Mestry, R & Ndhlovu, R. 2014. The implications of the National Norms and Standards for School Funding Policy on equity in South African public schools. South African Journal of Education, 34(3), pp 1- 11.

Blake, B & Mestry, R. 2014. The changing dimensions of the finances on urban schools: An entrepreneurial approach for principals. Education as Change, 18(1), pp63-78.

Schmidt, M & Mestry, R. 2014. South African Principalship, Agency and Intersectionality Theory. Canadian and International Education. 43(1), pp 1-16

Mestry, R & Naicker, S. 2015 Exploring distributive leadership in South African public primary schools in the Soweto region in Pashiardis, P & Beycioglu, K (eds). 2014. Multidimensional Perspectives on Principal Leadership Effectiveness. Hershey: IGI Global.(In press)

Mestry, R. 2014. The State’s Responsibility to Fund Basic Education in Public Schools in Bogotch, I & Shields, CM. 2014. International Handbook of Educational Leadership and Social (In)Justice. New York: Springer.

Mestry, R & Malan, M. 2014. Cash Flow and Financial Planning (in Gitman, LJ, Smith, MB, Hall, J, Makina, D, Malan, M, Marx, J, Mestry, R, Ngwenya, S & Strydom, B. 2014. Principles of Managerial Finance (South African Edition). Third edition. Cape Town: Pearsons. (In press)

Mestry, R. 2014. Financing Education in Gauteng: Using the Budget to Improve Opportunities in Prew, M (ed). 2014. 20 Years of Education in Gauteng 1994 to 2014: An Independent Review. Johannesburg: The Word Horse.(in press)

Mestry, R. 2013.A critical analysis of legislation on the financial management of public schools: A South African perspective.  De Jure. 46(1): 162-177.

Mestry, R, Grobler, BR & Bosch, M. 2013. Understanding and managing conflict: A prerequisite for post-merger FET colleges. SAJHE. 27(1).

Hlongwane, TS & Mestry, R. 2013.

Mestry, R & Govindasamy, V. 2013. Collaboration for the effective and efficient management of school financial resources. AER 10(3): 431-452.

Mestry, R, I Moonsammy-Koopasamy, Schmidt, M. 2013.The instructional role of primary school principals. Education as Change – themed edition. 17(S1): S49-64.

Smith, C, Mestry, R & Bambie, A. 2013. Roleplayers’ experiences and perceptions of heads of departments’ instructional leadership role in secondary schools. Education as Change – themed edition. 17 (S1): S163-176.

Mestry, R & Schmidt M. 2012. A feminist postcolonial examination of female principals’’ experiences in South African secondary schools. Gender and Education, 24 (5), 535 – 552.

Grobler, B, Mestry, R & Naidoo, S. 2012. The Influence of Management Practices on Authentic Collaboration with Educators. Journal of Social Sciences. 30 (3):211 – 223.

Mestry, R & Khumalo J. 2012.  Governing bodies and learner discipline: managing rural schools in South Africa through a code of conduct. South African Journal of Education, 32 (1):97 -110.

Mestry, R, Pillay, J & Schmidt, M. 2012. Teachers attitudes of the role of principals in shaping the school culture. Journal of Education Studies (in press). vol 11 (1).

Teaching information

Courses taught in the past     


  • Advanced Certificate in Education - sites: SWC, UPLANDS and NAMIBIA           

  • Advanced Certificate in Education - site: RICHARDS BAY           

Postgraduate students

Past students         


S Naicker – Distributive leadership: The perceptions and experiences of teachers in the Soweto region (cum Laude) (Scholarship programme)
B Barrie – School funding: The perceptions of stakeholders on the Norms and Standards for School funding
K Bodalina – The management of physical resources in the Erkhuleni district (cum laude)
I Koopasamy-Moonsammy  - Principals as Instructional Leaders (cum laude) – R Mestry
A Bambie – The Head of Department as instructional leaders(attained 73% for the dissertation)
J Verster – The role of the corporate sector in school funding(attained 75% for the dissertation)


S Hlongwane - The empowerment of self-managing working teams in the Erkhuleni District.           
M Bosch - Conflict Management in post-merger FET Colleges     
R Ndhlovu - The analysis of the Norms and Standards for School Funding Policy: Implications for Social Justice and Equity     
S Naicker -  A case study of an education leadership intervention programme for public school principals and district officials in a school district in Gauteng

Current students


P Balkrishen - The leadership role of campus managers to improve student achievement in FET Colleges in Mpumalanga    
P Basson - Collaboration between SMTs and SGBs in managing public primary schools' finances    
S Govindasamy - The perceptions and experiences of female principals of the management of  learner discipline


B Blake - Parent decision making for school choice in the quest for quality education    
V Govindasamy - The principal as instructional leader in the facilitation of curriculum changes: implications for the provsion of quality education    
N de Bruyn - A narrative study of how female school principals acquire and assimilate decision-making tools and problem-solving techniques: Voices of Resilience and True Grit: 
I Moonsammy-Koopoosammy - Reflections of Female School Principals on their experiences in school leadership positions in the Gauteng Province.
K Bodalina - A case study of the experiences of  women leaders in the Gauteng East Education District Office

For a complete list of publications please download the CV