NRF Rated Researchers

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Prof Nadine Petersen

Professor Nadine Petersen is the Executive Dean: Faculty of Education  at the University of Johannesburg. She heads up a faculty with five academic departments, two research centres and four South African National Research Foundation (NRF) funded chairs. Nadine has held various leadership positions within UJ: as head of department for Childhood Education and as Vice Dean: Teaching and Learning. As an NRF C2 rated researcher Nadine Petersen’s research interests are in teacher education for the primary school where she collaborates closely with international colleagues and in service learning in teacher education – in 2019 she received the inaugural award of the International Association for Research in Service Learning and Engagement in recognition of excellence in scholarship that advances the practice of service-learning and community engagement within and across borders/cultures. She serves as trustee on the boards of the Gauteng Education Development Trust, the National Research Foundation and the UJ pension fund and previously served on the Sasol Inzalo Foundation board for 10 years.

Professor Shireen Motala

Prof Shireen Motala

The DHET/NSF-DSI/NRF SARChI Chair in Teaching and Learning (PSET) (SARChI T&L) Tier 1 was awarded to Professor Shireen Motala in July 2020. The inception of the Chair took place in October 2020 and the first term of the Chair continues until 2024 in a four-year cycle. The national research chair is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and coordinated by the National Research Foundation, South Africa in July 2020 at a Tier 1 level.

Prof Motala is formerly the Head: Postgraduate School (PGS), University of Johannesburg (UJ) and a professor in the Faculty of Education (FoE), UJ. The SARChI: T&L is located within the FoE. Prior to joining UJ in 2010, Professor Shireen Motala, was the Director of the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her academic qualifications include: a BA (University of Durban-Westville), a B Social Science Honours (University of Cape Town), an MA (University of Warwick), a PGCE (University of London) and a PhD (University of the Witwatersrand). In March 2010, she was appointed as the Director of the newly established Postgraduate Centre: Research and Innovation at the University of Johannesburg. In May 2016, she was appointed as the Senior Director of the Postgraduate School. She is currently UJ’s representative on the international body, the Council Graduate Schools and participates in the Universitas 21 activities.

She has held numerous leadership roles related to Higher Education including: Chairperson of the Education Policy Consortium (2006-2010), Chairperson of the UNESCO South African Commission (2001-2006), and first inaugural president of the South African Research Association (SAERA) (2013-2014). She was appointed by the Minster of Higher Education and Training to serve on the Council of Higher Education (CHE) for two terms from 2010-2010. In 2013, she served on the Ministerial Committee to review the national Senior Certificate examination. She is currently a trustee at the South African Institute for Distance Education. She is on the Assessment and Accreditation committee of UMALUSI.

Research Interests:
An NRF rated researcher, she has initiated collaborations between universities across Africa and with Asia and Europe, and this has led to the formation of long-term regional and international partnerships. Playing a leadership role in research, she was the principal investigator or the international Consortium for Research on Equity, Access and Transitions in Education (CREATE).  Her research record is substantial and includes publications in journals and books and editorship of local and international journals. Her research interests and expertise have been in the areas of education financing and school reform, access and equity, and education quality.

Her doctoral research examined how financial redistributive strategies can provide equitable access and reduce inequalities in the South African public schooling system.   Spanning a long career in research in all its aspects, she led strategies for: research capacity development, knowledge management, research income generation, and stakeholder relationship management. Promoting scholarship and a sound intellectual culture and developing the next generation of scholars in order to contribute to societal transformation, have been in the forefront of her activities, and will continue to be during tenure as Chair.  In 2022, Prof Motala co-edited three special issues: Southern African Review of Education (Special Issue), 27(1); Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the South, 6(1); Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the South, 6(2).

Selected Publications: 

Chiramba, O., and Motala, S., (2023). Towards transforming teaching and learning in higher education: interrogating poverty through a decolonial perspective, Curriculum Perspectives. 10.1007/s41297-023-00188-w
Motala, S., Sayed, Y., & Maggott, T. (2023). The SDG agenda and university transformation in Africa: The decolonial turn deferred. African journal of teacher education, 12(2), 189-209. DOI:
Msimango, S., & Motala, S. (2023). Gendered ‘Leaky Pipelines’ in Higher Education: Towards a Supervision Framework for Breaking Through the Glass Ceilings. Journal for New Generation Sciences. 21(1),  116-131

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Prof Kakoma Luneta

Dr Luneta is an NRF rated researcher and Professor of Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg, where he has been a faculty member since January 2005. Dr Luneta holds a PhD in Mathematics Teacher Education from the University of Witwatersrand and master’s in mathematics Teacher Education from the University of Sussex – England.  His research interest is in Mathematics Teachers Education at Secondary and Elementary school; Mathematics/numeric cognition and Professional Development and Mentorship of Mathematics Teachers. He has taught mathematics and physics in various Northern and Southern African countries, the UK and the US. He has supervised to completion several masters and doctoral students from Sub Sahara Africa, Greece and South Korea. He has been appointed a visiting Professor of Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada and was once a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University in the US, Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia and recently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge – Centre for Neuroscience Education. He has published five books, over 100 book chapters and articles in accredited journals. He is the Editor in Chief of the newly launched African Journal of Teacher Education and Development. For recent publications visit:


Prof Andy Carolin

Andy Carolin has a PhD in English literature from the University of Johannesburg (2017). He is the author of a monograph titled ‘Post-Apartheid Same-Sex Sexualities: Restless Identities in Literary and Visual Culture’ (Routledge 2021), which was awarded the UJ Vice Chancellor Award for Book of the Year (2022). He is also the recipient of the UJ Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2022). His research is located in the field of literary and cultural studies, and it focuses especially on the intersections between race, gender, sexuality, and history in South African literature and film. He holds a Y2 rating from the NRF.

Leila Kajee

Prof Leila Kajee

Leila Kajee Leila holds a PhD in Education, specializing in Language in Education. Her research interests span social justice and transformation through language, literacies, and identities.  She has taught a range of programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including Applied English, Educational Linguistics, Literacies, Research Design, Online learning and Digital Literacy. Leila is full professor in the Department of Education & Curriculum Studies. She works predominantly with pre- and in-service teachers, and participates in and leads several funded projects in her research area.

Prof Ke Yu

Prof Ke Yu

Prof Yu is an associate professor at the Department of Education Leadership and Management. She worked at at the Human Sciences Research Council before joining UJ. She holds Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology in China, Master in International Business from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, and PhD from Educational Management and Policy Studies department at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She is a critical thinker with extensive inter-disciplinary knowledge and a wide range of interests. Her publication spans authoring and co-authoring of over 35 book chapters, journal articles, reports and policy briefs and 10 conference presentations. Her research interests primarily centers around knowledge production, learning and communication theories, educational technology, as well as counter narrative and comparative studies.


Raj Mestry

Prof Raj Mestry

Prof Raj Mestry’s has two main research foci emphasising social justice and equity in education: Financial Management and Women Leadership. He has received local and international recognition from scholars in the field of education leadership and management. He serves as executive member of the Education Association of South Africa and is a member of the prestigious American Education Research Association (AERA) and the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS). In 2012, he was awarded the Research Medal for his research contribution to education from the Education Association of South Africa. Prof Raj Mestry is now an Emeritus Professor but NRF rated

Chris Myburgh

Prof Chris Myburgh

Prof Myburgh is a tenured professor in Psychology of Education since 1989 and is an expert regarding quantitative as well as qualitative research methodologies. His focus areas are especially adolescence, persons confronted with life challenges and strategies to facilitate these persons’ mental health. He serves on the ethics committees of the Medical School of the University of the Witwatersrand and the Faculty of Education (vice chairperson) of the University of Johannesburg. Prof Chris Myburgh is now an Emeritus Professor but NRF rated.

Prof Jace Pillay

Prof Jace Pillay

Prof Jace Pillay holds a South African National Research Foundation Research Chair in Education and Care in Childhood. He heads a research team focusing on the educational, psychological, and social care of orphans and vulnerable children.

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Prof Umesh Ramnarain

Prof Umesh Ramnarain research focus is mainly inquiry-based learning. His research is on inquiry teaching and learning, and its uptake in South African classrooms characterised by diversity and complexity in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic or environmental factors. The knowledge base he has built has important implications at both the national and international levels, especially in terms of inquiry teaching in underprivileged schools.

Prof Piet Ankiewicz

Prof Piet Ankiewicz has been awarded a C2 NRF rating for his foundational philosophical research on frameworks for technology education with the goal of advancing the teaching and learning of technology. His research interests include the affordances of the philosophy of technology for technology classroom pedagogy, teacher education, indigenous technology knowledge systems, and STEM education. He also has an interest in students’ attitudes towards technology. He recently authored chapters on students’ attitudes towards technology for Springer International Handbook of Technology Education (2018), the implications of Feenberg’s critical theory for technology education for a Brill Sense series book on philosophers of technology (2019), and indigenous technology knowledge systems for Information Age Publishing (2021). A chapter on approaches to teaching STEM for a Springer series has been accepted for publication in 2023. He also co-authored a chapter on human-centred design pedagogies to teach values in technology education for a Springer series (2022). Prof Piet Ankiewicz is now an Emeritus Professor but NRF rated.

Prof Emnet Tadesse Woldegiorgis

Prof Emnet Tadesse Woldegiorgis

Emnet Tadesse Woldegiorgis is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies at the University of Johannesburg. He has been researching higher education issues in Africa since 2006 and holds a PhD from the University of Bayreuth in Germany, where he worked as a researcher from 2015. His research interests include higher education transformation, decolonization and the politics of knowledge, partnership models, regionalisation, and internationalisation of higher education in Africa. He completed his joint master’s degree in Higher Education Studies at Oslo University in Norway, Tampere University in Finland, and Aveiro University in Portugal. Additionally, he has been certified in two advanced-level research trainings in higher education from the Centre for Institutional Cooperation (ICIS) at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, and in Leadership and Management of Higher Education Institutions from the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands. Prior to his role at Bayreuth University, he served as the Head of the Quality Assurance Office, Head of Department, and vice dean at Mekelle University in Ethiopia for four years. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on higher education issues, including theories of regionalisation, student mobility, cost sharing, and harmonisation of higher education systems in Africa.


Woldegiorgis, E. T., & Chiramba, O. (2024). Access and success in higher education: fostering resilience in historically disadvantaged students in South Africa. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2024). Internationalisation of Higher Education Under Neoliberal Imperatives: The Political Economy of Student Mobility in Africa. In Critical Reflections on the Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Global South (pp. 13-31). Emerald Publishing Limited.

Woldegiorgis, E. T., & Yu, C. Q. (Eds.). (2024). Critical Reflections on the Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Global South.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2024). Rethinking the Internationalisation of Higher Education in South Africa in the Post-Pandemic Era: Towards a Blended Future. In Critical Reflections on the Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Global South (pp. 201-222). Emerald Publishing Limited.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2023). The Dynamics of Globalisation and Internationalisation Processes Shaping the Policies for African Higher Education. In Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 21st Century: Pedagogy, Research and Community-Engagement (pp. 87-105). Singapore: Springer Nature Singapore.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2023). Changes and Continuity in the Roles and Functions of Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Creating the New African University (pp. 40-66). Brill.

Bekele, T. A., Ofoyuru, D. T., & Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2023). Assessing University-Society Engagements: Towards a Methodological Framework. Innovative Higher Education, 1-21.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2023). Decolonising the African Union Regional Higher Education Policy: A Tentative Approach against Neocolonial Entanglement. In Unyoking African University Knowledge (pp. 120-137). Brill.

Kibona, B., & Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2023). Reconstructing the social responsibilities of African universities towards citizenship education: perspectives from the ujamaa philosophy of Julius Nyerere. Curriculum Perspectives, 1-10.

Ndlovu, S., & Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2023). ‘Nothing for us without us’: Exclusion of students with disabilities in disability policy review at a South African institution of higher education. African Journal of Teacher Education12(1), 179-201.

Woldegiorgis, E. T., & Monari, K. (2023). Access and politics of higher education for refugees: Comparative contexts from Uganda and Ethiopia. African Journal of Teacher Education12(2 Special Issue), 1-19.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2022). Mitigating the digital divide in the South African higher education system in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Perspectives in Education40(3), 197-211.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2022). Configurations of progress and the historical trajectory of the future in African higher education. Educational Philosophy and Theory54(11), 1839-1853.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2022). Responses and Mechanisms for Mitigating the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on East African Higher Education. In Higher Education in the Face of a Global Pandemic (pp. 120-138). Brill.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2022). The Challenges of Online Learning in African Higher Education: A Critical Reflection on the Digital Divide Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic. In Higher Education in the Face of a Global Pandemic (pp. 11-27). Brill.

Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2021). Decolonising a higher education system which has never been colonised’. Educational Philosophy and Theory53(9), 894-906.

Elizabeth Henning

Prof Elizabeth Henning

Prof Elizabeth Henning is the South African National Research Foundation Chair for “Integrated Studies of Learning Language, Mathematics and Science in the Primary School.” She leads research in mathematical cognition and language in the early years of school as well as primary school children’s learning of science concepts and reading of science texts. She is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. She combines instructional film production with research.

Dr Amasa Ndofirepi

Dr Amasa Ndofirepi

Dr Amasa Ndofirepi is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Education as well as a UJ Research Associate at AMCHES with research interests in African Philosophy of Education, Philosophy for Children, Critical thinking in education, Higher Education Studies with an eye on socially just epistemologies in African universities. He extensive experience teacher education in local and international institutions and his peer-reviewed work is published in books, book chapters and international journals.


Elias Mpofu

Prof Elias Mpofu

Elias Mpofu, Ph.D., DEd, CRC, FASROC, MAPS, is professor of health sciences at the University of North Texas, and visiting professor with the University of Johannesburg. He presently Adjunct Research Professor with the Western Sydney University’s  Translational Health Research Institute (Campbell Campus) (2019-2022), and Honorary  Professor of  Health Sciences at the University of Sydney (2017- present), besides other interntional affiliations.  A rehabilitation psychologist, Elias Mpofu is recipient of research awards in the health sciences including the the South African National Research Foundation, Australia Research Council, US National Science Foundation,  US. National Institutes of Health [NIH]   and the US National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research.  Professor Elias Mpofu was Head of Discipline of Rehabilitation Counselling at the University of Sydney (2008-2016), providing teaching, research, and service leadership to graduate programmes in rehabilitation counselling at that University. He serviced many committees at the University of Sydney. He was also a past Chair/Convenor of the Rehabilitation Psychology Interest Group of the Australian Psychological Society (2014-2015), panel member of the Australian ICF Disability and Rehabilitation Research Program (AIDRRP), advisory committee member of the World Health Organization’s [WHO] Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Development in Rehabilitation and Long Term Care (2012-2017) and Examiner for the behavioral health module of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (2012-present)  and International Representative of the US National Council of Rehabilitation Education (2010-2012; 2018-2020).  Professor at The University of Sydney

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Dr. Roxanne Bailey


As a Y2-Rated researcher Dr. Bailey’s main research focus is the promotion of self-directed learning through the implementation of cooperative learning and blended learning especially in the fields of computer science education. In her chapter “A systematic review of research on the use of technology-supported cooperative learning to enhance self-directed learning” she, along with her colleague Prof Elsa Mentz, explored the incorporation of technology when implementing cooperative learning. Roxanne has received several research grants for her research and is currently involved in three research projects aimed at investigating technology-supported cooperative learning in computer science education modules. Apart from her research focus being implemented mostly in computer science education modules, Roxanne has investigated strategies for supporting novice programmers at High School level – Grade 10, as well as Tertiary level – BEd students “Introduction to programming module”.

Prof Mdutshekelwa (Mdu) Ndlovu

Prof Mdutshekelwa (Mdu) Ndlovu is an NRF rated Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Science and Technology Education (SciTechEd) and also the Vice-Dean for Research and Postgraduate Studies in the Faculty of Education. His research interests include the integration of ICTs into the teaching and learning of mathematics at high school and undergraduate (pre-service) levels. He has published and continues to supervise Honors, Masters and Doctoral candidates in this niche area including pre-service teachers’ competencies in and beliefs about technology integration in the teaching of mathematics. He is co-editor of a Routledge scholarly book on the integration of ICTs in STEM education in Africa and has authored and co-authored numerous journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings. He is an Associate Editor of Pythagoras, an accredited DHET, Scopus and DOAJ listed mathematics education journal.


Prof Maximus Monaheng Sefotho

Maximus Monaheng Sefotho is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Johannesburg. Passionate about Career Guidance, Disability, Philosophy of Education, he coined a neology hephapreneurship, for persons with disabilities, who are Neither in Education, Employment or Training. Prof. Sefotho’s work is a socio-political act geared towards transformation and social change. Prof. Sefotho’s work yielded a brainchild in the form of a Centre for Visual Impairment Studies at the University of Pretoria, (As co-director) and an Advanced Diploma in Visual Impairment Studies which started in 2020. Prof. Sefotho has also been instrumental in the development of a centre for neurodiversity at the University of Johannesburg for which he was a co-director. He currently focuses on career transitioning of youth with disability from home, through school and into the world of work. Prof. Sefotho’s teaching and research are supported by a strong background in the philosophy of education, which includes a specific focus on the philosophy of research to demystify Philosophy, Paradigm, Ontology, Epistemology and Axiology as applied to research.  In 2018, Prof. Sefotho edited a book: “Philosophy in education and research: African perspectives”, which he uses to conduct workshops to support post-graduate students to understand the philosophy of research.

Prof Sarah Gravett

Sarah Gravett is a professor of teacher education and development at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and was the dean of the Faculty of Education at UJ for fifteen years up to December 2021.  Her research foci have included dialogic teaching, the design of learning environments in higher and adult education and teacher education. Currently, she is mainly involved in projects on education imperatives for a fast-changing world, focusing particularly on teacher education and development. Here she leads and is involved in projects that investigate teacher education models, the incorporation of the science of learning in teacher education, creative coding and educational robotics for teachers, making as a pedagogy and using mixed-reality simulations in teacher education. She is a C-rated researcher and a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).