Centre for Education Rights and Transformation

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CERT PhD candidate Charlene Houston’s documentary Defying Gravity: the Johaar Mosaval Story earns Honourable Mention on World Stage

Well known Cape Flats Anti-Apartheid civic activist Charlene Houston produced and directed the documentary Defying Gravity: the Johaar Mosaval Story. The documentary was selected for the New York Independent Film Festival in September 2023, where Charlene’s work received ‘Honourable Mention’. Also selected for the South Africa – Tanzania and Egypt Cultural Seasons, Houston’s documentary sensitively narrates the journey in the reflective words of Mosaval (who passed away recently at the age of 95). Johaar was the first black person to become a senior principal dancer on the world stage during Apartheid. The story recounts the painful experiences of the late Mosaval surviving the wrath of racism as a world renowned ballet dancer, navigating also a stereotyped Cape ‘Malay’ identity.  Warmest congratulations, Charlene! See:https://app.filmnet.io/experience/nyiff

Charlene presently studies in the field of heritage in Africa as site of public pedagogy under the research supervision of Professor June Bam-Hutchison at CERT.

Dr Julie Reddy appointed Professor of Practice at CERT

We are pleased to welcome Dr Julie Reddy as part of the growing CERT family. As the former CEO of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) for South Africa, she brings a wealth of experience in education accreditation to CERT. She holds skills and expertise relevant to the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and the development of Short Learning Programmes (RPLs). Dr Reddy earned her PhD from Cornell University in the USA. Prior to that, she served in senior management and leadership positions for over 30 years in the international and South African education, skills development and civil society sectors. Since January 2023, she has been appointed by the Technological Higher Education Network South Africa (THENSA), as an education, training and development associate on various higher education related projects. In 2022, the Minister of Basic Education appointed her as Deputy Chair of the South African National Commission to UNESCO. Internationally, she has participated/worked on various UNESCO and other global initiatives. Currently, she is a UNESCO/UIL International Juror for its Lifelong Learning Cities Award and a Director on the Board of the Groningen Declaration Network  Her appointment to the World Education Services Board of Trustees commenced in 2023

Research Collaboration Workshop – 6-8 March 2024

CERT   warmly invites you to a Research Collaborative Workshop on the 6 – 08 March 2024 hosted by:


Graduate School of Education, Universidade de Caxias do Sul-UCS
International Journal of Action Research – Editor

The interactive research collaboration workshop will be held with interested researchers and scholars/activists. Places are limited. Please register your interest to participate with juneb@uj.ac.za

Internationally renowned Composer, Poet and Educator of the Arts – Eugene Skeef – appointed Professor of Practice at CERT

Eugene Skeef has been appointed Professor of Practice at CERT. With the late Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, he co-led a literacy campaign in schools, colleges and communities in the African townships during the height of Apartheid. He was forced into exile in London in 1980, following Biko’s tragic death in 1977 at the hands of the brutal Apartheid regime. Eugene’s interdisciplinary work in peace education has since been celebrated internationally by diverse communities and educators across the globe, including in Bosnia. He has been mentor for accomplished South African jazz musicians like Bheki Mseleku and others, and is also a close collaborator with jazz legend Khaya Mahlangu who participated in a ‘deep listening’ convocation with youth from Soweto and scholars at CERT during Africa Month in May 2023. The path-breaking Africa Month event was facilitated and curated by the legendary jazz radio presenter and promoter, Brenda Sisani, an interdisciplinary research collaborator with CERT. Eugene has worked with schools, community colleges, universities and cultural organisations over decades. He has been a composer for the London Philharmonic Orchestra amongst his various prestigious appointments in Arts and Culture. Earlier this year, he was hosted by the Swedish Embassy and the national Department of Sports, Arts and Culture as one of South Africa’s celebrated legends in the Arts – renowned particularly for his mentorship of accomplished young black South African artists. Skeef, known for his artistic and spiritual water drum rituals, has been selected as the featured poet for the 27th Edition of the Poetry Africa Festival this year – a collaboration with the Arts & Culture Centre,  University of Johannesburg. Whilst at CERT, Eugene will be hosting (amongst others) a Masterclass in Childhood Education at the Soweto campus.

Neville Alexander Commemorative Conference 2023 – Friday 25 August 2023 from 9:30 to 16:30

Re-centering Indigenous Feminism in Knowledge for Education Transformation in Africa


Book launches in South Africa - Against Racial Capitalism: The Selected Writings of Neville Alexander

Public Seminar with Prof. Hakim Adi - Defending the history of Africa & the African Diaspora

Against Racial Capitalism.
Edited by Salim Vally and Enver Motala

Against Racial Capitalism – Book

The first book launch will be at the annual Neville Alexander Commemorative Conference on August the 25th in Jo’burg and thereafter events in CT, Gqeberha, East London and Durban. It will also be launched in the UK, the US and elsewhere. Please contact CAWE and CERT if you would like to be involved in these events

This edited book features a foreword by John Michael Samuel and Karen Press; a timeline of key events in the life of Alexander and the context of the times; a comprehensive introduction and a bibliography of his writings. The book is divided into 4 parts: Prison Writings: ‘The University of Robben Island’, 1964-1974; Reaping the Whirlwind: The 1970s and the 1980s; The Transition to Democracy: 1990 to 1994 and Post-1994 Essays, Talks, and Op-Eds. Each period has a separate introduction.


Profound and provocative. Grounded in history, engaged with revolutionary theory, and informed by a lifetime of practice, Neville’s intellectual acuity and passion for freedom shine through in every page. Read, learn, and join the growing global struggle against racial capitalism.

~ Barbara Ransby, historian, activist, author of Making All Black Lives Matter.

Alexander’s beautiful writing patiently connects theory and method with purpose. Against Racial Capitalism is absolutely necessary for all who struggle to understand and change twenty-first century conditions.

~Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Abolition Geography

Salim Vally and Enver Motala have done an admirable job in putting together the writings of one of Africa’s foremost revolutionary intellectual. Neville Alexander did not merely combine theory and praxis but lived it. For him the analysis, critique and struggle against racial capitalism was a lived reality. A life to learn from.

~Issa Shivji, Professor Emeritus of Public Law & First Julius Nyerere Professor of 
Pan-African Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
More endorsements

The Marketisation of Higher Education invitation

Prof. Salim Vally will be the main speaker of the seminar titled “The Marketisation of Higher Education: Compromising the Role of Intellectuals and the Purpose of Education?”

Date: 11 July 2023 – 10:00 to 12:00

Click Here to join the meeting.

Prof. June Bam-Hutchison and music educator Eugene Skeef join Duduzile Ramela to dissect the transformation of education in Africa as the continent observed Africa Day.

CERT CAWE Newsletter APRIL MAY 2023

Read the newsletter of the centre for education rights and transformation and the South African research chair in community, adult and worker education.

25 – 26 Eugene Skeef_Africa Day May 2023 CERT_Poster

CERT and CAWE invite you to celebrate Africa day in a ritual archive convocation with internationally renowned South African composer and educator Eugene Skeef.

Professor Leon Tikly seminar

Date: 23 May    |     Time: 10:00 to 12:00

Decolonising education for sustainable futures: Some conceptual starting points.

CERT’s Director wins 2023 Human and Social Sciences (HSS) Book Award in Best Non-fiction Monograph category

Prof. June Bam is the third from left in front row.

The prestigious joint award was presented to Professor June Bam for her monograph Ausi Told Me: Why Cape Herstoriographies Matter (published by Jacana, 2021) at an HSS gala dinner held in Pretoria on 16th March. The book was praised by the judges for its innovative methodology in interpreting and researching the past through the community’s knowledge of plants, astronomy and livestock. A previous work that she was lead editor of, Whose History Counts: Decolonising precolonial historiography, co-edited with Lungisile Ntsebeza and Allan Zinn (SunMedia, 2018), was also a finalist in the inaugural HSS Awards of 2020. Her collaborative work with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation titled Turning Points in History won the UNESCO Peace Education Award for South Africa in 2008. June has also co-authored another pathbreaking book with Bernadette Muthien, titled Rethinking Africa: Indigenous Women re-interpret southern Africa’s Pasts (Jacana, 2021). According to June, ‘these new approaches to deep knowledge which I try to capture in my research and writings help to inform a transformed education for environmental sustainability and an understanding of the importance to protect and respect community knowledge and their rights to protect land, ecosystems, their languages and the important aspects thereof to sustain livelihoods and peace embedded in our diverse ancient cultures and their interconnectedness. These knowledges help us to appreciate and understand what makes us equal humans on this planet since deep time’.

Newly appointed director for the Centre for Education Rights & Transformation (CERT) – 2023

Director For The Centre For Education Rights & Transformation (cert)

Professor June Bam is a professionally qualified teacher and holds a PhD in Sociology and History Education. With many years experience in higher education transformation in South Africa and globally, she has led on decolonial international research projects that involved a large number of universities worldwide with a focus on feminist indigenous knowledge production and Freirean methodological approaches to understanding ‘archive’. June has held senior departmental head positions for the Department of African Studies, and in setting up the new African Studies and Linguistics Department at the University of Cape Town. She was appointed Associate Professor in African Feminist Studies at UCT in 2022. June is also the founding director of the first San and Khoi Research Centre at UCT where she introduced certificated indigenous language courses for close to 200 unemployed youth and community members. Her other positions in higher education included as Honorary Secretary for the African Studies Association (UK), and as Research Associate at the Public Understanding of the Past, University of York (UK), and Visiting Fellow in Museums and Human Rights at Kingston University (UK). She has taught at a number of universities, including as visiting professor and director from 2014-2020 for the ‘Sites of Memory’ course for Stanford University’s Overseas Programme. June is a qualified school teacher, and has trained many teachers at UCT and at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). She has taught hundreds of high school children on the Cape Flats, taught adult night school in the 1980s, and graduated hundreds of university students. She served as history education advisor in the Education Ministry between 2000 and 2004, and as director of the South African History Project which involved curriculum development in the social sciences. She has published widely for teachers, learners, teacher trainers, scholars and also the general public. She has worked with diverse marginalised communities in knowledge partnership processes including at universities and museums in South Africa and within the African Diaspora.

Prof Salim Vally Mandela, Education and the Indignity of These Times

The lecture will critically engage with Mandela’s celebrated statement that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Without diminishing the importance of education, the lecture will argue that it is but one strand (albeit a crucial one) in the tapestry of economic, political, social and ecological policies and practices.

Date : 22 September 2022

Time : 17h00 – 18h30

Venue : Zoom 

For more information about the event click here.

Here’s a formal statement from the Review of African Political Economy:

The Editorial Working Group of Review of African Political Economy is pleased to announce the 2018 winner of the Ruth First prize. The prize is awarded for the best article published by an African author in the journal in a publication year.

This year, the prize was awarded to Mondli Hlatshwayo for his article ‘The new struggles of precarious workers in South Africa: nascent organisational responses of community health workers.’ It was published in ROAPE Volume 45, Issue 157 in Autumn 2018.

The article shines the spotlight on community health workers (CHWs), who remain a blind spot in the literature on South African labour studies. Abandoned by mainstream unions and often ignored by labour scholars, the article reveals that CHWs are crafting their own nascent organisational responses as women and as precarious workers.

Hlatshwayo highlights the ‘paradox of victory’ for the African National Congress (ANC), by which trade unions and workers achieved a formal dismantling of apartheid laws and gained organisational rights for labour, but economic liberalisation led to massive retrenchments, the rise of labour flexibility and the pauperisation of workers. This demands more focus on workers’ struggles outside the formal union structures. In Hlatshwayo’s case-study of health workers, it is a struggle for recognition as employees of the state who receive a living wage, rather than the ‘volunteer’ with a stipend and no employment benefits. They have constructed alliances that include left wing, labour-supporting non-governmental organisations and health organisations. Beyond this, the Gauteng Health Workers’ Forum is influenced by the Cuban health care system and debates the reconceptualisation of their role as agents for social change, no longer alienated from control of their work and with the interests of the poor and marginalised at the centre of their practice.

The ROAPE Prize Committee commented on Hlatshwayo’s article: ‘it was a strong piece of research exploring precarious work and alternative forms of organising, outside the straitjacket of established unions. The struggles of CHWs represent new worker-led initiatives in South Africa. This is bread and butter analysis for ROAPE. Particularly pleasing is that the women themselves are at the centre of the article.’ Furthermore, ‘in terms of Ruth First’s legacy, the paper was the most relevant and crucially engages actively with the flesh-and-blood subjects of its theoretical arguments and assumptions about labour struggles, something unfortunately all too rare in academic literature.’

Another member of the committee said it ‘addresses an understudied area in labour struggles, through examining the labour struggles of precarious community health workers. It also explores the human consequences of many key themes of neoliberal state policy by showing the effects of precarious labour, the rise of ‘volunteerism’, cuts in health spending and the outsourcing of public services in South Africa. I really liked the way that it engaged with the health workers themselves, allowing them to make key empirical and theoretical points. Also, this paper is definitely the most in line with Ruth First’s work, looking at labour struggles, the exploitation of workers, and issues of gender and class.’

Mondli Hlatshwayo is a Senior Researcher in the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg. Previously he worked for Khanya College, a Johannesburg-based NGO, as a researcher. His areas of research include precarious work, female migrants, migrant workers, workers’ education, trade unions and social movements. Hlatshwayo has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on these topics. He is co-editor (with Aziz Choudry) of the Pluto Press book, Just Work? Migrant Workers’ Struggle Today. His Doctoral thesis, which he completed in 2012, was on trade union responses to technological changes.

The article can be read for free until July 2020 and can be accessed here.

The Centre for Education Rights and Transformation (UJ) and the Chair in Community, Adult and Workers’ Education congratulates Dr Mondli Hlatshwayo for the Review of African Political Economy’s Ruth First award for his article on the struggles of precarious workers in South Africa and specifically the organisational responses of community health workers. The article can be accessed for free from our website.

What school textbooks in South Africa say about the Cold War – and why it matters


An article co-authored by Prof Linda Chisholm