What is SAELA?

The South African Education Law Association was established in 1996 with the aim of contributing to the field of education law, and translating education law into education praxis in South Africa. The association is a non-profit organization and managed by an executive committee.


SAELA aims at adding value to South African education law matters through lively discussions, intense debates, legal panels, international partnerships and annual conferences.  The purpose of SAELA is in the interest of freedom, equity and quality in education in South Africa, to -

(a) make an effective contribution to policy, including the promotion of human rights in education; and

(b) to further knowledge and understanding in Education Law among stakeholders.


In order to pursue this purpose SAELA aims at:

  • organizing conferences, simposia, workshops, addresses, briefing sessions or similar occasions
  • promoting research (and its publication) and teaching in the field of education law and policy;
  • the publication of a journal, newsletter, information sheet, or the use of any other communication medium;
  • effective liaison with South African education authorities at all levels;
  • promotion of active participation in and influencing of the public debate on matters relating to education law and policy;
  • appropriate co-operation with as many South African, foreign and international associations, institutions or individuals as possible that pursue a corresponding purpose or can promote the realization of the Association's purpose.
  • active participation in programs to support disadvantaged members of the education community.

History of SAELA

After the formation of a steering committee in October 1995 with Prof Johan Beckmann as leader of the committee, the South African Education Law and Policy Association (SAELPA) was established formally in October 1996. The establishment took place at SAELPA’s first international conference held in Rustenburg in the Northwest Province of South Africa, and at the same time its Constitution was adopted and an executive committee was formally elected. The support and assistance of Prof Jan de Groof and the European Association for Education Law (ELA) played an unmistakable role in the process leading up to the hosting of an international conference and the establishment of SAELPA. After some deliberation in 2006 the name of SAELPA was changed to South African Education Law Association (SAELA), during the Annual General Meeting held at Port Alfred.

In its first 20 years of existence, SAELA had 8 chairpersons namely:

1996-1997: Prof Johan Beckmann, University of Pretoria
1998-1999: Prof Elmene Bray, University of South Africa
2000-2002: Prof Joan Squelch, University of Johannesburg
2003: Prof Moss Thulare, Central University of Technology
2004-2006: Prof Elda de Waal
2007-2010: Dr Ken Alston, University of Fort Hare, East London
2010-2014: Prof JP Rossouw, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus
2014-: Dr Jean van Rooyen, University of Pretoria


SAELA has a Constitution that was presented and adopted at Rustenburg, Northwest Province, South Africa, in 1996.


The executive committee is elected at the Annual General Meeting which is usually held in conjunction with the Association’s Annual Conference. It consists of 8-10 members, including the Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary. A new executive committee is elected every three years.


On 3 September 2019 during the annual general meeting, the executive committee for the next three year term was elected.

In the photo  from left to right are Annamagriet de Wet, Jean van Rooyen, Mariëtte Reyneke (Vice-Chair), Reggie Govender, Jaco Deacon (Chair), Jerry Merabe, Riaan van der Bergh (Treasurer) and Nicholus Mollo.