Centre for Education Rights and Transformation

Home » Faculties of Education » Centres » Centre for Education Rights and Transformation

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