Research Entities


The central scholarly focus of the Unit is on human rights praxis and implementations in education, with a variety of sub-foci as portrayed by the six project groups:

  • Legal Perspectives in Education
  • Human Rights Education in Diversity
  • Social Justice, Religion and Spiritual Capital
  • Social Justice in Education
  • Public Schooling in Diversity
  • Discipline in Education Institutions


What is SDL? “In its broadest meaning self-directed learning describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with or without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes” (Knowles, 1975)

Our vision is to promote self-directed learning that will lead to life-long learning in all education sectors through excellent research.

Our mission is furthermore:

  • To conduct relevant research on strategies and contexts that contribute to self-directed learning skills for the 21st century with its unique 4IR demands;
  • To optimise the quality of our research outputs and to disseminate the results thereof locally and internationally;
  • To support academic staff to develop relevant knowledge and to gain international recognition;
  • To provide quality postgraduate training in order to promote self-directed learning in all education sectors;
  • To share our knowledge - where possible through open licenses or in the public domain - to promote self-directed learning practices.
  • To conduct research on self-directed learning for community engagement

In our research we focus on the promotion of self-directed learning in all education sectors. We aim to propose strategies for diverse contexts which can contribute to the development of self-directed learning skills. The aim is to broaden the body of scholarship of SDL internationally and on the African continent.


The Education and Leadership Research Unit (Edu-Lead) was established in 2017 in the Faculty of Education of the NWU. The central scholarly focus of the entity is on leadership at all levels of the education system, with a variety of sub-foci as portrayed by the five project groups:

  • Turnaround strategies at poor-performing secondary schools: Lessons from success cases in historically disadvantaged areas;
  • Promotion of healthy schools in South African schools;
  • The influence of principal leadership styles, school management structures, moral leadership and contextual determinants on a positive school climate;
  • Leadership accountability of principals towards improved quality education (results) in secondary schools;
  • Understanding leadership for and during school change and development in challenging formerly deprived South African context