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.

The vision of Education and Human Rights in Diversity (Edu-HRight) is to strive to be an internationally recognised leader in socially relevant social justice and human rights-related research, as well as education for South Africa and in Africa.

Our mission is creating and sustaining a research and education environment that is grounded in values of social justice and human rights in diversity.

The values of Edu-HRight are fully aligned with those of the North-West University with a view to creating, continually, a culture that reflects these values.

We, the members of Edu-HRight believe that:

  • our community of scholars must be founded on the pursuit of knowledge through research, teaching and learning, as well as community engagement, with membership acquired on the basis of intellectual merit, ability and the potential for outstanding, rigorous scholarship; and that
  • differing perspectives, arising from diverse backgrounds and histories that define the identities of our sub-areas, deepen scholarly inquiry and enrich academic debate.

We treasure:

  • academic freedom, creative and innovative thought, ethical standards and integrity, accountability and unity-in-diversity; and
  • our staff and postgraduate candidates, who constitute Edu-HRight’s core asset.

We foster:

  • an inquiry‐led and evidence‐based approach to creating knowledge; and
  • academic citizenship, whereby we commit ourselves to harnessing our intellectual abilities in the interest of our nation and humanity.

We recognise that:

in a resourceconstrained world where vast disparities remain, Edu-HRight cultivates – on a regular and sustained basis – researchers (established, novice, fellows and postgraduate candidates) who appreciate the importance of:

  • engaging communities;
  • entrepreneurial endeavours; and
  • innovative actions

 in advancing scholarly knowledge, education, employment, and development in our local contexts.


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

Bio-Psychosocial Perspectives

Shantha Naidoo

Lead by Dr S (Shantha) Naidoo 
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.


Shan Simmonds

Lead by Prof SR (Shan) Simmonds

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.

Other members from Citizenship

Comparative International Perspectives

Ewelina Niemczyk

Lead by Prof EK (Ewelina) Niemczyk

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.

Other members from Comparative International Perspectives



Ferdinand Potgieter

Lead by Prof FJ (Ferdinand) Potgieter

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.

Other members from Discipline

Diverse Contexts

Celestin Mayombe

Lead by Dr C (Celestin) Mayombe

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.

Other members from Diverse Contexts

Legal Perspectives, Governance and Democracy

Nicholus Mollo

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.

Other members from Legal Perspectives, Governance and Democracy