USAf’s Education Deans’ Forum acquires new leadership

Published On: 22 March 2024|

The inaugural meeting of the Education Deans’ Forum (EDF) on 6 March saw the deans electing new office bearers, recognising that the term of office of especially the current Chairperson, Professor Chika Sehoole, Dean in the Faculty of Education of the University of Pretoria, would end when his term as UP’s Dean ended in July 2024.

According to the EDF’s Terms of Reference, the Group must be led by a three-member steering committee and, when a new steering committee is elected, one member from the previous committee must be retained for continuity. The Chairperson is then elected out of the three office bearers.

On 6 March, Professor Mbulungeni Madiba (left), Dean of Education at Stellenbosch University, emerged as the EDF’s new Chairperson alongside Professor Juliet Perumal, Head of the School of Education in the Faculty of Humanities of the University of the Witwatersrand. Professor Hilda Israel, Dean of Education at the University of Mpumalanga, was retained from the previous committee for continuity. The term of office of the new Steering Committee kicked in immediately on 6 March 2024.

Professor Chika Sehoole, who had been a member of the EDF for eight years since 2016, expressed gratitude to the group for allowing him to lead, and for their cooperation during his tenure. He said he would leave the UP Faculty of Education a very different entity from that which he had inherited, eight years ago. He said the same of the EDF. He however said he felt that “this forum needs new blood and new ideas.” He had found in leading this Forum, a very fulfilling role that had seen him meeting new people in the education space, over the years.

Professor Sehoole went on to extend well wishes to the new leaders, expressing confidence in their ability to elevate the Forum.

As he took over the reins, Professor Madiba said he was aware of the demand for one’s time, that came with being an EDF Chair. Having previously worked hard to establish USAf’s Community of Practice for the Teaching and Learning of African Languages (CoPAL), which he went on to lead as Chairperson from 2016 to 2020, Professor Madiba said he had hoped to rest and be a follower in the EDF. “But I thank you for your confidence in me. I will consult a lot with Prof Sehoole as I take over the reins, but we will all work and achieve great things together.”

An additional activity during the 6 March meeting was the annual review of the EDF Terms of Reference as required in the Forum’s constitution. Members emphasised a need to heighten deans’ participation and to be consistent at it, to stay apprised of developments in education for their institutions’ benefit, and to contribute to the sector-wide resolution of challenges in teacher education.

The EDF is one of USAf’s most active communities of practice founded many years ago to foster independent research in the broad field of education, and to oversee the practice of teacher education in the higher education sector. The deans fulfil that mandate by debating and sharing information, expertise and concerns and seek solutions to common challenges encountered in faculties / schools of education.

To that end, the EDF has continued to serve as a steadfast advocate for best practices in teacher education in South African higher education. The March deliberations highlighted challenges faced by student teachers and reiterated the Forum’s commitment to continue seeking collaborative solutions.

Professor Madiba will lead the Forum towards the upcoming annual EDF Colloquium in May, themed Languages across the curriculum with special focus on African languages in the Foundation Phase. The Colloquium deliberations will extend to the issue of teacher supply and demand, that has been under the spotlight since 2020. Other meetings of the EDF will follow in August and November.

Co-written by Kayley Webster, a Communication Consultant contracted to Universities South Africa and ‘Mateboho Green, USAf’s Manager: Corporate Communication.