Research Unit: Education and Human Rights in Diversity (Edu-HRight)


The Education and Human Rights in Diversity Research Unit (Edu-HRight) was established in 2013 in the Faculty of Education Sciences of the NWU, Potchefstroom Campus. Edu-HRight has a number of special researchers contracted for research in the unit: visiting professors, post-doc fellows, research assistants and international collaborators. Members of the unit play their part in national and international associations and are engaged in research fellowships at international institutions, and several of the subareas and individual members in the unit are active in research endeavours on national and international level.

We are conducting research about human rights and social justice in and for education with regard to:

Bio-Psychosocial Perspectives

Lead by Dr S (Shantha) Naidoo (Acting subarea leader)
This subarea conducts transdisciplinary human rights-related research promoting, theorising and problematising the interconnectedness between physical, psychological, social and environmental milieus. Bio-psychosocial perspectives reimagine and reconceptualise relevant themes in the subspheres of:
  • Bio: physiological, neurological, cognitive and physical (dis)abilities
  • Psycho: mental processes, emotional processes, behavioural issues, personality traits and self-regulation
  • Social: socio-economic, socio-environmental, cultural and religious factors, communities and political influences
These subspheres play a role in facilitating optimal holistic well-being of humans within themselves, society and the environment.


Lead by Prof FJ (Ferdinand) Potgieter 

Citizenship education involves, but is not limited to, political, social, civic and cultural dimensions; . it It engages rights and privileges, accountability and responsibility. It underpins the conceptualisation of our changing contemporary world under the auspices of the Creed of Human Rights. Citizenship is no longer restricted to the parameters of the nation state. It is reimagined, through a creative tension, as a more complex system that recognises the multilevelled imperatives of a national, global and “‘glocal’” nature. The rise of the Creed of Human Rights as a moral regime or compass, warrants a new conceptualisation of citizenship education. It underscores the need for reconceptualising a new form and language of citizenship education to challenge and theorise on perpetuating social issues such as xenophobia, homophobia and religious intolerance to (re-)mobilise citizenship education.

Comparative International Perspectives

Lead by Dr ZL (Louw) de Beer

Comparative International Perspectives focuses on education and human rights in diverse national contextual settings:

  • Education as a human right
  • Human rights education
    • Education about human rights
    • Education through human rights
    • Education for human rights
The objective of this inquiry is to determine what nations can learn from each other. The international perspective refers to the study of global initiatives such as the INCHEON Declaration, Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education.
Special attention is paid to education and human rights in (i) Africa and (ii) the BRICS supranational grouping.


Lead by Prof CB (Connie) Zulu

Discipline aims to understand and determine the reasons for and the nature of behaviour, relationships and emotional control in public and private institutions. Issues of discipline in institutions are viewed from the multiple perspectives of learners, students, educators and parents nationally and internationally. Key areas of concern in discipline are, among other things, violence, bullying, aggression, conflict and protests.

This subarea recognises the importance of advancing knowledge for social cohesion, moral regeneration, transformation, policy and governance in the light of discipline as a hegemonic construct and its potential to foster an ethic of care, aesthetics, values, norms and demands of propriety. The advancement of interdisciplinary research networks in the area of discipline is crucial for providing guidelines for the development of policy and practice in institutions.

Diverse Contexts

Lead by Prof SR (Shan) Simmonds

Human rights injustices are inscribed within the multifaceted and interconnectedness of diverse contexts. Education, as a deeply engrained moral and ethical practice, is by its very nature embodied and embedded in public and private contexts such as, but not limited to, schooling, higher education, and wider society. Within these contexts our research embraces and problematises constitutional values of human dignity, equality and freedom in our research pursuits of diversity in its most nuanced sense (namely, religion, culture, race, ethnicity, age, health, (dis)ability, nationality, language, gender and sexuality) so as to (re)imagine transformative and innovative education.

Legal Perspectives, Governance and Democracy

Lead by Dr NT (Nicholas) Mollo 

Our research focuses on legal determinants (for example legislation, policy, court cases, academic literature and empirical data) that affect education in diverse contexts, pertaining to:
  • The theoretical and pragmatic impact of legal principles, provisions and responsive developments in the sphere of education.
  • Individual justice, community rights, labour relations, governance and leadership within public and private education contexts.
  • The application, attainment and broadening of substantive democracy in the education system.