Education Association of South Africa | Mokgatlho wa Thuto wa Afrika Borwa | Opvoedkundevereniging van Suid Afrika | Inhlangano Yezemfundo YaseNingizimu Afrika



EASA Medal of Honour 2017

Jun 05 2017

The only award winner at this year’s EASA Conference, was Prof Raj Mestry. EASA bestowed the prestigious Medal of Honour upon him for consistent achievement in the field of Education in South Africa over the past decades.

Prof Raj Mestry’s achievement in the field of teaching, research and community engagement is commendable. Despite his late entry into academia, he made exceptional inroads through his resilience and tireless efforts to conduct relevant research, publish extensively and provide quality education to students. Through hard work, dedication and commitment, he has become a renowned scholar in the field of financial and human resource management with strong intonation on social justice and equity. Raj reached the pinnacle of his career in 2010 (only after 8 years) when he was promoted to full professor, and then appointed as Head of Department in Education Leadership and Management at the University of Johannesburg.


Prof Raj Mestry began his illustrious career in 1973. His experience in school education spanned over a period of almost thirty years, passing through the ranks of teacher, head of department, deputy principal and principal of primary, combined and secondary schools. As a teacher he taught Mathematics, Accounting and Business Economics in various secondary schools. He received numerous accolades such as the Merit Achievement in Teaching and the NRB Award for best Accounting results in the country under the former House of Delegates. The knowledge, skills and values gleaned from these practices provide him with a sound foundation as lecturer and researcher in the field of education leadership and management. In 2002 he joined the University of Johannesburg (formerly Rand Afrikaans University (RAU)) as senior lecturer and progressed through the ranks to full professor. For the past fifteen years he taught at undergraduate; B Ed (Hons); and M Ed levels in Education Leadership and Management. He is respected for his expertise in Financial Management nationally and internationally. He has an excellent teaching track record and this is evident from the formal student feedback evaluations. Raj has supervised and co-supervised numerous M Ed, D Ed and PhD students. He is of the firm opinion that it is quality and not quantity that matters. Besides eight students receiving the Cum Laude for their Masters’ degrees, three students were awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for the most outstanding M Ed results in the Faculty of Education, and two students received UJ scholarships to continue their PhD studies.

External Committees and membership

At a national level he is currently on the executive committee of the Education Association of South Africa (EASA). Until 2013, he served for about 10 years on the executive committee of the South African Education Law Association and was a member of the SAQA’s Standard Generating Body (Education Leadership and Management). He is currently a member of the American Education Research Association (AERA) and British Educational Leadership and Educational Research Society (BELMAS) and has strong links with the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) and World Education Research Association (WERA). He is on the Advisory Board of Oxford/London Symposia dealing with women leadership. He served on the editorial committee of the South African Journal of Education until 2011, was co-editor of the South African Journal of Education Management and Leadership, and a member of the Review Board of the International Journal of Teacher Leadership. He also served on the editorial board of 10th year publication: “Engaging the law and education in a transforming society: A critical chronicle of the South African Law and Policy Association. 1996 – 2005 and have been a co-guest editor for a special issue on Instructional Leadership for an international journal, Education as Change.

Conferences and visiting professor

At a national level, Raj selectively attends local conferences organised by EASA and SAERA. He was invited to present a paper on Social Justice and Equity in Funding at the Gauteng Department of Education Colloquium and presented a keynote address at a conference arranged by the North West Education Department. He also addressed the South African Principals Association on Financial Management and was the keynote speaker at the Education Summit held in Midrand. He has been frequently invited to address district managers and school management teams at various seminars and colloquial sessions organised by the Gauteng Department of Education, teacher unions and the South African Principals Association. He also has a strong presence in the international arena through his research in education leadership. He presented numerous papers at international conferences such as AERA, BELMAS and WERA. He has been invited to deliver keynote addresses on topics relating to the continuing professional development and school leadership. More recently he presented the keynote address at an international conference held in Chennai, India. He also presented several papers at seminars in India at the invitation of several school and tertiary education institutions. He also participated in the Asia Roundtable Conference that was held in Singapore in March, 2016 and has been again extended an invitation to participate in this Roundtable in Taiwan in 2017. The invitation to the Asia Roundtable is only accorded to recognised international researchers in education leadership and management. He has been invited as visiting professor at the Simon Fraser University, British Columbia for 2016.

Research and publications

In the past 15 years he has published over 50 articles in national and international accredited journals and conference proceedings. In 2013, He recorded the highest number of accredited published units in the Faculty, and in 2015 was placed third highest in the Faculty. From 2011 t0 2015, he recorded the highest number of research outputs in the Faculty. He published, at the invitation of recognised publishers (Springer) and international experts, chapters in national and international books. His expertise in the field of financial management and education leadership has ensured him to write chapters in books published by Oxford University Press and Pearson. At the invitation of international experts he published several chapters for books on leadership. He also contributed a chapter in a book dealing with the 20 year contribution made by the Gauteng Department of Education.

He is an NRF rated researcher and his citation record according to Google Scholar since 2011 is 581 with an h-index of 14. As co-author, he received an award for the best article published in the Education and Management Journal (EMAL) - an international SAGE publication.

Raj is actively involved in research and participated actively in the:

·         SAPADTIC research project;

·         Leadership Project and Cross Boundary Leadership commissioned by the University of Lincoln;

·         Desk research on school governance commissioned by the Matthew Goniwe School for Leadership and Governance; and

·         University of Warwick teacher training programme.

As a project leader, Raj has secured substantial funding from the NRF and University and Faculty Research Funds. The South African education landscape has been on a decline and itt is for this reason that his research agenda includes issues surrounding learner discipline, school funding and continuing professional development of teachers and school managers. He is currently conducting pertinent research on social justice and equity in school education.

Community engagement

Besides presenting workshops, giving talks and advising school managers and leaders, Raj is invited by private sector institutions such as Cence and MTN Foundation to serve on a panel of adjudicators on various educational matters. He also served on panel of judges for the National Department of Education’s Teachers National Awards. He was interviewed on TV and radio such as featuring on the programme Rights and Recourse: School Fees on SABC 3. He has been quoted on school discipline, admission of learners in various media such as the Star and Beeld. He is actively involved in numerous community engagement activities. Through his involvement with the Education Leadership Institute (ELI) at the University of Johannesburg, he has provided training in school financial management and various facets of leadership to school principals, school management teams and governing bodies. The ELI has forged strong links with the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has partnered with them to provide continuing professional development for principals and district officials. Since 2011 Raj has annually coordinated training for a group of principals and district officials at Harvard. He has also made a footprint in Africa by training school principals in Namibia. 

He has peer reviewed numerous applications for NRF funding and NRF rating and in 2016 has been invited to sit on the NRF funding panel. He served as peer reviewer for articles submitted to national and international journals. Some of these include: the South African Journal of Education; Education as Change and International Journal: Pedagogy; Africa Education Review;  Journal of Education;  International Journal of Teacher Leadership; and  Education Research and Reviews. He have also peer reviewed articles for several Conference Proceedings. He reviewed books on behalf of Van Schaik and Pearson Publishers and have been an external examiner/moderator at B Ed (Hons), Masters and D Ed/PhD level for a number universities in South Africa.

Concluding remarks

It is his firm belief that the success of the country lies in the improvement of the South African education system, and he hopes that through his research and personal commitment to the improvement of teaching and learning in South African schools that he will make a significant contribution to the progress and enhancement of education in South Africa.

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