SARChI Chairs

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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

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.

Salim Vally

Prof Salim Vally

Prof Salim Vally holds the Research Chair in Community, Adult and Worker Education (CAWE). He is also a visiting professor at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He completed his doctorate at UKZN and studied at Wits and York universities. He was a visiting lecturer at the universities of York, Columbia, Virginia and Fort Hare. His scholarly interests include educational and social policy as they relate to human rights, democracy and socio-economic justice.

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.