Clinical Professor Teboho Moja has been awarded the 2019 Lifetime Achiever Award from the National Research Foundation (NRF).This award is given yearly to someone whose work has made a contribution of international impact, shaping the lives and views of South Africans.
Moja was honored for her extraordinary contribution to racial equity in South African education.
“Policy, academics, and activism have been intersecting paths in my career. It is the driving force behind my passion for education," Moja said, reflecting on her career as a champion of educational equity in Post-Apartheid, South Africa.
Growing up I learned that education is the only escape route for a black woman in South Africa.
Born in Pretoria and raised in Atteridgeville, Moja first engaged in social justice activism while attending Setotolwane High School in Polokwane, South Africa. Sparked by the expulsion of apartheid struggle icon, Onkgopotse Abram Tiro from the University of the North, for criticizing the Bantu Education Act, Moja began her life's mission advocating for education reform.
She studied education at the University of the North and worked as a teacher for two years. She earned her master’s degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, attending the university with special ministerial permission after exploiting a loophole in the law which allowed her to study at a “white” institution as long as a designated “black” university did not offer the same degree.
Moja earned her doctorate in educational and instructional technology from the University of Wisconsin on a Fulbright scholarship.
Throughout her academic career, Moja has been a powerful voice in South-Africa's educational reform movement. She was one of the founders of the Union of Democratic University Staff Associations (UDUSA) and served as its national president. She joined the National Education Policy Initiative (NEPI), a project of the Mass Democratic Movement, as a member of both its management and research team.
She was appointed by President Mandela as the executive director and commissioner to the National Commission on Higher Education. The Commission produced a national report that provided a framework for higher education reform in South Africa. In 1999, Moja joined NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Administration, Leadership, and Technology.
“Growing up I learned that education is the escape route for a black woman in South Africa,” Moja said. “My father said, ‘Education is the only thing that I can give you that no one can take away.'”
In Her Own Words: Teboho Moja
Teboho Moja, a clinical professor at NYU Steinhardt, was awarded the 2019 Lifetime Achiever Award from the National Research Foundation for work on behalf of equity in education in South Africa.