Mr Buti Manamela

Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation

Mr Buti Kgwaridi Manamela is the Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation. His previous portfolio was as Deputy Minister in the Presidency: Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, Youth Development and Administration. Deputy Minister Manamela has been a Member of Parliament since 2009, serving as Whip of the Labour Portfolio Committee; and as Chief Volunteer to parliament’s Nelson Mandela Day.

Deputy Minister Manamela is a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party (SACP). He served as the National Secretary of the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) from 2003 until 2014, and has also served in various roles in the ANC Youth League, South African Students Congress and various other student organisations. Deputy Minister Manamela also worked as an organizer for the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) in 2001.

Deputy Minister Manamela completed his Matric in Phagameng High School and went on to study towards his N-Certificate in Electronics at Mamelodi College until 2001; and completed his Post-Graduate Diploma (2014) and Master of Management in Public Policy at the University of Witwatersrand (2017).


President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning

Professor Asha Singh Kanwar, one of the world’s leading advocates of learning for sustainable development, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning. Throughout a career spanning over 35 years, she has made outstanding contributions in the areas of teaching, research and international development.

Professor Kanwar received her undergraduate, Master’s and MPhil degrees from the Panjab University in India and a DPhil from the University of Sussex, UK. Her areas of expertise include open distance and technology-enabled learning, open educational resources, quality assurance, gender and organizational development. Professor Kanwar has written and edited a dozen books, published over 100 papers and articles, and delivered numerous keynotes at prestigious international conferences.
Prior to joining COL, Professor Kanwar was a senior consultant in open and distance learning at UNESCO’s Regional Office for Education in Africa (BREDA). She has also served as Director, School of Humanities and as Pro-Vice Chancellor at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in New Delhi, India. She was a Fulbright Fellow for post-doctoral research at Iowa State University in the US, where she was later invited to teach. Currently, she serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies and Education (IITE).

Professor Kanwar won several international awards, including the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Prize of Excellence, and the Meritorious Service Award for outstanding contributions in open and distance education from the Asian Association of Open Universities. She has been conferred eight honorary doctorates from Universities in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.


Vice-President of Swedish Association for Distance Education | Board member of Job and Skills Coalition Sweden

Ebba Ossiannilsson, Sweden is a professor of innovation and open online learning. She is an independent expert, quality reviewer, influencer and researcher in the fields of open, flexible, online and distance learning. Her focus is on SDG4 and the futures of education, quality, resilience, leadership and personal learning. She is a member of most international and national organizations.

At ICDE she is a member of the Board, on the Quality Network, Chair of ICDE OER Advocacy Committee and ICDE OER Ambassador. She is also a quality reviewer for ICDE and EADTU. She was the research leader for ICDE research on Quality models in online and open education around the globe: State of the art and recommendations, and she was the researcher of ICDE Blended Learning: State of the Nation. Ossiannilsson is a member of the ICoBC and chairs the Committee on Quality and Standard for Micro-Credentials. She collaborates with the European Commission, UNESCO, COL, OEB and ITCILO.

She has been awarded several fellowships and serves on the editorial board and as guest editor of several scientific journals. Her own publications include over 200+. She is V-President of Swedish Association for Distance Education and a board member of Job and Skills Coalition Sweden. She is a regular keynote speaker at conferences.


Independent Higher Education Strategy Advisor

Peter van der Hijden is an independent higher education strategy advisor. He acts as sparring partner, board member, workshop moderator and inspirational speaker for public authorities, non-governmental organisations, companies, media outlets, university- and professional networks. Former EC head of sector higher education policy, Peter played a central role in developing the Erasmus programme, the Bologna process, and the higher education modernisation agenda. He further contributed to the Horizon R&I framework programmes and to researcher mobility under the European Research Area (ERA). Peter studied law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, where he started his career as vice-registrar of the university council and policy officer for education and research. 

Recent assignments include positioning European University alliances (after an idea of President Macron), senior expert for a 2030 vision study on universities,  the advisory board of Kiron Learning beyond limits (a Berlin based NGO serving new audiences with online studies) and promoting micro-credentials as a new and flexible learning option for all (advisor to EC and organisations worldwide).


CEO of Higher Health

Dr (Professor) Ahluwalia is a seasoned, trained qualified physician and a Health Systems, Policy & Management Specialist. He possesses qualifications of MBBS(MBChB), MBA (Gold medal) from University of Cape Town, and a PhD in Public Health that has assisted him in building a large number of significant diverse health programmes in both developing & developed countries with absolute Scientific and Epidemiological knowledge and experience.

In his current job as a CEO of HIGHER HEALTH, the organisation looks into Health, Wellness & Development needs of all Public Universities, Technical Colleges, Vocational Colleges, Community Colleges, Private Higher Education institutions, as well as all the Work & Skills based learning institutions across SA.

He is also a Professor of Practice with the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg and has written many publications, articles, opinion pieces on Public health, HIV, Mental Health & universal access to health care. Prof Ahluwalia also serves on several boards of various governmental & nongovernmental organizations & in his capacity served as a health expert on the South African Delegation for BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa) Academic forum. He has been a speaker at conferences, forums & symposiums across the world & actively interacts-with local and international media.


Global Education Specialist | Advisory Board Member for HP Foundation, HP Life Program HP Inc.

Matias has over 30 years of experience in the technology field. Through his work, he brings awareness to emerging trends in technology and education, particularly in regards to the challenges that nations may face in large-scale technology deployments. Matias consults with governments and non-for-profit organizations to deliver solutions for primary, secondary and tertiary education at scale. Matias has led nation-wide consulting engagements and proof-of-concept deployments on four continents. These include ground-breaking mixed methods research projects in Indonesia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Guatemala, all focused on improving education outcomes and long-term economic growth.


Acting Deputy Director-General: University Education

Thandi Lewin works in the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as the Chief Director for Institutional Governance and Management Support in the University Education branch. Her responsibilities include student funding policy, oversight of NSFAS, university governance oversight, and student development and support matters, amongst other areas. Since February 2021 she has been acting as the Deputy Director-General for University Education.

Previously she coordinated the development of a National Plan for Post-School Education and Training. Prior to that she worked for JET Education Services, where she was responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation; and the Department of Education, as a Chief Director for Equity in Education and later for University Policy. She has also worked in the non-profit, university, and philanthropic sectors. Her work has been broadly in the field of higher education policy and education and social justice. She holds a Bachelor of Social Science degree from the University of Cape Town, a Masters in Education and International Development from University College London Institute of Education, and a PhD from the University of the Free State.


Deputy Director-General: Community Education and Training

Thembisa Futshane is the Deputy Director-General for Continuing Education and Training, at the Department of Higher Education and Training. She has fifteen years government experience at senior management level at National and Provincial Departments. She has served as a Chief Director for TVET Colleges Institutional Support and Management, CD for Institutional Management, Development and Support; CD for Learner Development and Social Support Services and as a Director for Youth Development. Her education and training experience includes social change, policy development, implementation, support, monitoring and evaluation. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Change and Development.


Acting Chief Director, Policy, Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, DHET

Mr Mgiba is the acting Chief Director for System Planning and Policy Management. He leads a team of specialists in system monitoring and economic analysis; research and evaluation, policy development coordination as well as information systems management.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Management from the University of Witwatersrand, an Honours Degree in Economics and a Degree in Public Administration from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He also completed a number of skills enhancing short programmes with various institutions of learning.

He started his career as a practitioner at the Department of Labour 20 years ago where he was responsible for labour market information and planning, moving through the ranks of management to become the Chief Planner, Deputy Director at the former National Department of Human Settlements.
He has more than 15 years’ experience in the fields of strategic planning; policy development and analysis; monitoring and evaluation, and corporate governance.


Deputy Director-General: TVET, DHET

Empangeni-born, PhD candidate Sam Zungu is a multi-skilled veteran of the education sector. The recently-appointed Deputy Director-General: TVET has more than two decades’ experience as a skills development and training practitioner. And his is not just a local success story.

The former uMfolozi TVET College Principal was instrumental in firming TVET college partnerships with industry, including Sweden’s Kalmar Maritime Academy for the establishment of the uMfolozi TVET Maritime Academy, as well as cooperation between Germany’s Kreishandwerkerschaft for the establishment of the uMfolozi TVET Civil and Construction Centre of Excellence.

Zungu has also served on various boards including as Chairperson of the Transport Education and Training Authority, Advisory Board Member of the South African International Maritime Institute, and Ministerial Task Team Member for the establishment of the South
African Institute for Vocational and Continuing Education and Training. Zungu says he’s more than ready for the challenge the new role brings.

He counts honesty, integrity and emotional intelligence among his ‘likes’. Zungu’s optimism is infectious.

By 2030, Zungu’s vision is a more inclusive TVET system that caters adequately for people with disabilities, and with emphasis on gender sensitivity. He wants to increase the number of artisans produced by the TVET sector in line with our projected economic growth as a country. Zungu envisions a highly digitised teaching and learning environment that allows innovative and entrepreneurial thinking for both students and staff. He explained, “Producing students that are able to face the 21st century challenges head-on without any fear of failure.”


Acting Director-General (DG): DHET

Dr Phil Mjwara was appointed Director General in April 2006. He is responsible for policy development in the Science and Innovation sector in South Africa. Prior to his appointment at the Department of Science and Innovation, Dr Mjwara was the group executive: Research and Development and Strategic Human Capital at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In 2001, he joined the National Laser Centre as its head. He was instrumental in growing the Centre’s activities from its inception, and in creating a network of centres in Africa until 2005. Dr Mjwara’s public sector career includes serving as director of technology development at the former Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. His academic career includes serving as professor of Science and Technology Policy at the University of Pretoria, and Physics lectureships at the universities of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Fort Hare.

He has been involved in the management of technological innovation as well as in processes for policy formulation. Dr Mjwara led the team that conducted the first South African technology foresight project. He has published and presented numerous papers relating to Physics, Technology Analysis and Foresighting. Dr Mjwara is one of the co-chairs of the Group on Earth Observations based in Geneva.


Deputy Director General: Represents the department on Social and Economic clusters of government

A public policy and strategy manager with a focus on innovation, inclusive development, sustainability, social and economic development, and public management and governance.

Employed since 2006 at the Department of Science and Technology, he is currently a Deputy Director-General and represents the department on the social and economic clusters of government. He is a current member of the board of the Water Research Commission, Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) and a past board member of MINTEK and SASSCAL.

Prior to joining the DST, he worked at the Centre for Public Service Innovation, an agency of government supporting innovation in the delivery of public services and the Department of Public Service and Administration. He began his working life with a five-year stint at the Workplace Information Group (WIG), a non-governmental organisation supporting trade union followed by three years during the formative years of the National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI), a think tank to COSATU.

At DST, he is responsible for strategically driving a portfolio of investments and policies that advance the social and economic development priorities of government through science and technology-based interventions. Particular areas of focus include science and technology for sustainable development, R&D-led industrial development, green and circular economy, the science-policy interface, and the Next Industrial Revolution.


Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Education Resources/ Practices and Research Professor in Open Distance eLearning at the University of South Africa (UNISA)

Prof Mpine Makoe is the Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Education Resources/ Practices and Research Professor in Open Distance eLearning at the University of South Africa (UNISA). She is a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher and an OER Ambassador of the International Council of Distance Education (ICDE). She is also a director of African Council for Distance Education (ACDE). Mpine serves as a higher education expert on the UNESCO Futures of Higher Education 2050 project.

She is a sought after scholar and has published extensively in technology enhanced learning in ODL. She has also done consultancy work for the Commonwealth of Learning facilitating the development of ODL policies in different universities in Africa. She holds a PhD and MSc in Educational Technology from the Open University, UK. She also has an MA in Journalism from the University of Michigan and BA in Communication and English from Hope College in Michigan as well as a diploma in journalism from Africa Literature Centre in Zambia. Mpine is actively involved in distance education associations nationally, regionally and internationally and a member of the University Futures Network.


Emerita Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town

Linda Cooper is Emerita Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town. Her research interests have focused on the relationship between different forms of knowledge, and she has published widely on Recognition of Prior Learning, widening access to adult learners in higher education and workers’ education. Her book publications include Workers’ Education in the Global South: Radical Adult Education at the Crossroads (Brill/Sense Publishers, 2020); (co-edited) Renewing Workers’ Education: Towards a Radical Alternative Vision (HSRC Press, 2019); and (co-authored) RPL as Specialised Pedagogy: Crossing the Lines (HSRC Press, 2016).

Dr Nick Balkrishen

Regional Manager of North West and Mpumalanga Region TVET and CET Colleges

Dr Nick Balkrishen is the Regional Manager of North West and Mpumalanga Region TVET and CET Colleges. He has a PhD in Educational Leadership and Management. His passion and area of expertise is Teaching and Learning and student achievement. Dr Balkrishen is the author of a reference book titled “Effective Campus Management” which was published in 2016 and provided free of charge to all campus managers and College Principals in South Africa.

He has been involved in Education and Training for 35 years and started as a teacher in 1985, moved through the ranks and became a School Principal before joining the TVET sector as a Deputy Principal Academic Affairs in 2003. In 2009, he was appointed as Principal and CEO of Gert Sibande TVET college. Under his leadership Gert Sibande TVET College became renowned for its academic excellence and was often rated as the number one performing college in SA. Dr Balkrishen strives to excel in all that he does. So it was not surprising that he passed his Honours Degree cum laude and Master’s Degree cum laude.

Dr Balkrishen is deeply committed and passionate about the plight of the African Child and believes that high quality education and training can play an important role in providing the youth with skills that can enhance their quality of life.


Specialist Scientist at the Gender and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council and an Honorary Lecturer at the School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

Dr Pinky Mahlangu is a Specialist Scientist at the Gender and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council and an Honorary Lecturer at the School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand. A key focus of my research has been on understanding the drivers and risk factors for women and children’s experiences of gender-based violence in South Africa, and on development and testing of evidence based interventions to prevent violence against women and children in low and middle-income countries.


Senior Director of Teaching and Learning at the University of the Free State

Prof. Francois Strydom is currently the Senior Director of Teaching and Learning at the University of the Free State. He has been the project leader of the South African Surveys of Student Engagement (SASSE) since 2007. The SASSE project, sponsored by the Kresge Foundation, currently works with 19 public higher education institutions across the country. In 2020, Prof Strydom lead the Students’ Access to and Use of Learning Materials (SAULM) survey which was commissioned by the DHET. Prof Strydom has collaborated on various higher education initiatives related to access and success with higher education consortiums.

He is the recipient of various research grants and has published several articles focused on higher education issues. His research interests include student engagement and success, improving the quality of teaching and learning, and evidence-based change in higher education.


Manager: Business Development & Stakeholders at the South African Qualifications Authority

Navin Vasudev is Manager: Business Development & Stakeholders at the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). His career background is in international development spanning over 20 years in programme development and management in the livelihoods, health, gender, education, forestry and social development sectors. His experience spans working in countries in Southern and West Africa, South Asia and North America. With demonstrated strong skills working and consulting in an international, multicultural environment, he is skilled in project management especially in participatory research, project coordination and monitoring & evaluation. An accomplished cross-cultural facilitator, he is experienced in facilitation, networking, fundraising and applying shared-learning techniques. He is enthusiastic to build effective relationships with diverse stakeholders.


Senior Manager: NQF Qualifications and Professional Bodies

Worked with NQF related issues since 1994. Was part of the National Training Board with the Minister of Labour in the development of a National Training Strategy for South Africa. Out of consultation with Unions and Employer Organisations, the NQF was proposed.

Joined SAQA in January 1998 as the coordinator of one of the National Standards Bodies. Had my own business from April 2000 where I consulted with Sector Education Authorities (SETAs), Higher Education Providers (Public and Private), skills development providers and other stakeholders in relation to qualifications development, quality assurance processes and other NQF processes.

Worked for a while in the Kingdom of Bahrain, in the Middle East, where I was involved in the development of qualifications, policies and procedures, and accreditation of providers and qualifications. Rejoined SAQA in 2018 as Deputy Director in the Directorate Registration and Recognition where I was involved in the registration of qualifications, recognition of professional bodies and development of policies and procedures.

Recently appointed as the Senior Manager: NQF Qualifications and Professional Bodies from 1 April 2021.


Senior Manager: Research at the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

Dr Heidi Bolton is the Senior Manager: Research at the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). SAQA oversees the implementation and further development of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) – the system for education, training, development and learning-at-work in South Africa. Dr Bolton oversees research and development that supports, informs and provides the evidence base for SAQA’s work. Her responsibilities include overseeing and collaborating in SAQA’s long-term research partnerships and shorter studies, ensuring the integration of research findings into national policy development and implementation, and NQF as well as NQF research capacity development.

Recent research foci include flexible learning-and-work pathways, flexible learning and teaching practices, articulation, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT), forms of knowledge, national education and training systems, and the related partnerships and networks established for this work within and between countries. Previously she was Senior Researcher at Umalusi, Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, worked as an academic textbook publisher, and has taught adults, and at school and university levels.


Senior Associate of JET Education Services

Dr. Rooksana Rajab, is an organisational development and change management expert with an emphasis on innovation to lead effectively, work collaboratively and drive results for change. She has a Doctorate in Management, Innovation and Technology and is currently a senior associate of JET Education Services – leading the Post School Education and Training CLOUD program – a five-year digital interoperability program that seeks to ensure citizens make informed labour market decisions that lead to increased employment.

She started her career as an academic in higher education at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal before moving into national policy development at the South African Qualifications Authority and eventually founding two highly successful development companies – one that specialised in the development of unemployed youth and the second, her current organisational development consultancy. She served as a board member on the National Skills Authority and the South African Qualifications Authority for several years and has worked on large scale projects with the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC), SETAs and corporates. She has extensive knowledge and experience with the challenges of both post school and related socio- economic issues.


Lecturer and Principal: Cool Project , University of Cape Town, South Africa

Dr Tabisa Mayisela is a senior lecturer, and co-ordinator of the Staff Development cluster at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT), University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is an experienced staff developer and instructional designer who has worked with academics on the integration of educational technologies and digital literacies into course curricula. She facilitates professional development workshops and seminars for academic staff. Tabisa also convenes and co-teaches in both Postgraduate Diploma in Education streams: Higher Education Studies and Educational Technologies.

Her research interests are students’ development of digital literacies; integration of educational technologies and digital literacies into course curricula; academic staff (professional) development and online learning design. In addition to her digital literacies focus on her PhD, she has been involved in the development of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) concept document – Curriculum for Digital Education Leadership. Tabisa is currently the principal investigator of the Cases on Open Learning (COOL) project that is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). This project aims to develop 16 case studies on open learning practices in the South African Post-Secondary Education and Training (PSET) sector.


Senior Manager: Authentication Services at the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

Wellington is the Senior Manager: Authentication Services at the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). He is responsible for the verification of national and evaluation of foreign qualifications. Prior to this, he was the Director responsible for SAQA’s advocacy and communication initiatives. He holds a Masters Degree in Development Sociology from the University of the Witwatersrand and he is interested in the nexus between South African and international trends in verification and evaluation practices.


Skills Development Specialist

Chris has always had a special interest in developing people’s abilities and skills, first as teacher of German in the 70s, as a school sport’s coach and then as an industrial training and course developer in the 80s. He developed a national training plan for the plastics industry in the 1990s. This was based on an innovative open learning system, a precursor to what became unit standards. 14 000 of a total of 30 000 employees in the industry participated in the scheme. As a result, he became involved the research, development and implementation of the NQF and Skills Development legislation, at policy as well operational level.

He has worked in a variety of contexts at organisational, industry, sectoral and government levels. He has also assisted higher and further education institutions, professional bodies, trade unions and industry associations to build their capacity in adapting to the NQF and skills development. In recently assisted an organisation to develop an activity- and project-based apprenticeship programme (no training manuals). He is currently assisting the DHET in the Centres of Specialisation project.


Director of the South African Institute of Distance Education (SAIDE)

Ms Glennie is the Founding Director of Saide – a not for profit organization committed to increasing equitable and meaningful access to knowledge, skills and learning through the adoption of open learning principles, distance education methods and educational technology. As Director she has overseen a variety of studies and interventions aimed at improving the contribution of distance education in South Africa and the region, including contributions to policy around modes of provision across different sectors. Over the last 13 years she has played an important role in advocating open educational resources and demonstrating their crucial advantages, especially in Saide’s ground-breaking initiatives –African Storybook and OER Africa. She was the founding president of South Africa’s distance and open education association, NADEOSA.

Ms Glennie was appointed by the Minister in 2013 to oversee the establishment of Sol Plaatje University through chairing the five-person Interim Council set up for this purpose and is currently the deputy chair of its Council. As a member of the Minister’s Council on Higher Education, Ms Glennie was an active participant in the establishment of South Africa’s first Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), and served for 10 years as the Deputy Chairperson. She has received honorary awards from both Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) for her significant contribution to distance education and the University of Pretoria for her contribution to education in South Africa. Ms Glennie has a BSc Hons in Mathematics from Wits and a Masters degree from the University of London.


Director of Education Innovation, University of Pretoria (UP)

Professor Gerrit Stols holds the following qualifications: HED, BSc Hons, MSc and PhD. He is currently the Director of the Department for Education Innovation at the University of Pretoria. Before this, he was the Head of the Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. His specific area of expertise, for which he has gained national and international recognition, is the innovative use of technology in mathematics education. In 2015, he spent a semester as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Great Falls (UGF) in the USA, where he assisted with the internationalisation of the UGF’s teaching programmes. Between 2011 and 2013, and again in 2016, he assisted the Naruto University of Education in Japan with the training of mathematics teachers and course facilitators.

Professor Stols has published a range of articles in national and international journals and has supervised a large number of master’s and doctoral candidates to the successful completion of their studies.