Professor Sithabile Ntombela

Faculty Dean
+27 35 902 6348

Sithabile Ntombela is a Professor and Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Zululand. She has varied work experience spanning basic and higher education. She worked as a Guidance teacher and later, a special school principal before joining the University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). During her stay at UKZN she occupied several positions including academic leader (Deputy Dean) Teaching & Learning.  In 2016 she joined UNISA as Associate Professor in the Department of Inclusive Education where she also served as Head of Department before being promoted to Director in the School of Educational Studies.

Professor Ntombela’s research passion is in issues of diversity and sites of exclusion. Over the years, it has gravitated towards Children’s Geographies, particularly disability in education. She uses the philosophy of inclusion, capability approach and the systems theory to flag exclusionary practices. Her research raises awareness about barriers to learning and participation and their influence on the academic and social development of young people


PhD (UKZN), M. Ed (University of Manchester), B. Ed, Diploma in Special Education (University of Natal), University Education Diploma (UNIZULU), BA (UNIZULU)

Research interests: 


Professional membership:


Research Databases / Publications:

Book chapters

Ntombela, S (2021) Learning support for students with disabilities at a South African university. In D. Chiwandire & L. Vincent (eds.) Making the circle bigger: South African Higher Education, Social Justice and Students with Disabilities. Unisa Press, Pretoria, pp. 21-36

Mahlangu, V & Ntombela, S (2021) Leadership challenges to inclusion: Students with disabilities in higher education. In Building integrated collaborative relationships for inclusive learning settings, DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6816-3

Ntombela, S & Setlhodi, I (2021) Transformation and social justice in South African Higher Education: An unequal turf. Research anthology on instilling social justice in the classroom.  DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7706-6

Ntombela, S (2019) Diversity in Education. In MJ Taole (editor) Teaching Practice in an African Context. Pretoria, Van Schaik Publishers, pp. 31-44

Ntombela, S & Setlhodi, II (2019) Transformation and social justice in South African Higher Education: An unequal turf. In S. Wisdom (ed.) Handbook of Research on Social Inequality and Education. IGI Global Publishers, USA, pp.238-252

Ntombela, S & Mahlangu, V (2019) The inclusion and support of students with disabilities in the South African Higher Education system: Supporting students with disabilities. In R. Jeffries (editor) Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity in Contemporary Higher Education.  IGI Global Publishers, USA, pp. 195-210.

Ntombela S, Raymond E, & Hay J (2013) Inclusive education in South Africa and Globally. In L van Wyk (eds.) Making inclusive education work in classrooms. Pearson South Africa, pp. 1-36

Ntombela S & Raymond E (2013) Strategies for teaching and learning in inclusive classrooms. In L van Wyk (eds.) Making inclusive education work in classrooms. Pearson South Africa, pp. 154-173.

Ntombela S (2012) Do Clothes make a (wo)man? Exploring the role of dress in shaping South African domestic workers’ identities. In C. Mitchell & R Moletsane (eds.) “Was it something I wore?” Gender and dress as material culture in social research in Southern Africa.  Pretoria: HSRC Press. Pp. 132-147

Journal Articles

Ntombela, S (2021) Reimagining South African higher education in response to Covid-19 and ongoing exclusion of students with disabilities. Disability & Society.

Nunan, J & Ntombela, S (2021) Students’ Challenging Behavior in Phoenix Primary Schools, South Africa: Impact on Teachers. Education and Urban Society.

Ntombela, S (2020) Teaching and Learning Support for Students with Disabilities: Issues and Perspectives in Open Distance e-Learning. Turkish On-Line Journal of Distance Education, 21 (3) 18-26. DOI:10.17718/tojde.761919

Nunan, J & Ntombela, S (2019) Causes of challenging behaviour in primary schools: the perspectives of students in Phoenix, South Africa.  Education and Urban Society, Doi:10.1177/0013124518781911.

Ntombela S & Mngomezulu, S (2018) Crossing disciplinary boundaries: Students’ experiences of facilitating a learning support programme at a South African university. The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, 14, 2, a487.

Mashiya N & Ntombela S (2015) Learning to teach through mother tongue: PGCE students’ experiences in one SA university. In the International Journal of Education Science, 11,1 97 – 107.

Ntombela S & Subrayen R (2013) Access challenges for students with disabilities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: A situational analysis of the Edgewood Campus. In the Journal of Social Sciences, 37, 1, 149-155.

Ntombela S (2013) Inclusive education and training in South African higher education: Mapping the experiences of a student with disabilities. In Africa Education Review, (10, 3: 483-501)

Ntombela S & Dayal, H (2011) Programmes and strategies targeting Gender and Poverty reduction in South Africa: A Case Study of Three service delivery Departments. In the African Journal of Governance and Development, 1, 1, 74 -87

Mahlase ZR & Ntombela S (2011) Addressing barriers to learning and development in KwaZulu-Natal: Drop-in centres as community responses to children’s needs in the context of HIV/AIDS. In the South African Journal of Childhood Education, 1, 2, 193-201.

Ntombela S (2011).  The progress of Inclusive Education in South Africa: Teachers’ experiences in a selected district, KwaZulu-Natal.  In Improving Schools, 14, 1, 5-14.

Moletsane R & Ntombela S (2010) Gender and Rurality in southern African contexts: An introduction.  In Agenda, 84: 4-8.

Ntombela S & Mhlongo B (2010) ‘Do you all understand?’ ‘Yes Ma’am.’ A South African primary school addresses language and communication barriers. International Journal of Language, Society and Culture, Issue 31:98-104.

Ntombela S (2010) Towards Inclusive Education and Training: Developing the South African System for the Challenges of Change.  Special Issue, Journal of Education Studies, 9, 1, 69 -81

Ntombela S (2009) ‘Do you understand?’ ‘Yes Ma’am.’ In HSRC Review, 7, 4: 22

Ntombela S (2009) Review: Progress of the world’s women 2008/2009. Who answers to women? Gender and accountability. In Agenda, 81 (148-151)

Ntombela S & Mashiya N (2009) “In my time, girls…” Reflections of African adolescent girl identities and realities across two generations, in Agenda, 79 (94-106).

Ntombela S (2009) Are we there yet? Towards the development of Inclusive Education in one district in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in The International Journal of Learning, 16, 7, 113-122

Ntombela S (2003) The challenge of overage children in two South African primary schools.  In The International Journal on School Disaffection, 1, 1, 36-44.

 Ntombela S (1997) Meeting special educational needs in an Umlazi Primary School. In The International Journal of the Association of Special Education, 1, 1, 11-20.

 Conference Proceedings

Ntombela S (2018) Towards the reduction of blockages limiting the participation of students with disabilities in South African higher education. Published by the Conference of the International Journal of Arts & Sciences, CD-Rom. ISSN: 1943-6114 : : 11(01):167-174 (2018)

Tchatchoueng, J, Ntombela, S, & Kalenga, R. (2012). Learning Via English: Experiences of 12 indigenous African Trainee-teachers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In J. Wassermann & S. Reddy (Eds.). Surveying students’ research in the humanities: Proceedings of the 2012 Postgraduate Conference of the University of KwaZulu-Natal College of Humanities. Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal. Page 63-79.

Other Research Reports

Moletsane R, Sader S, & Ntombela S (2011) Does the current South African school curriculum strengthen or undermine nation building? Unpublished report to the Provincial Department of Education, KwaZulu-Natal

Moletsane R, Reddy V, Ntombela S, Dayal H, Wiebesiek L Munthree C, Kongolo M, & Masilela T (2010) Gender and Poverty Reduction: Voice, Dialogue and Targeting. PACE, Human Sciences Research Council

Moletsane R, Chikoko V, Ntombela S, Kruger C, & Pithouse-Morgan K (2010) Assessing the Impact of the ‘Skills Revolution’ Among Women in South Africa. PACE, Human Sciences Research Council. 

 Muthukrishna, A., Schoeman, M., Ntombela, T., & Jairaj, S. (2000) Developing sustainable Inclusive Education Policy & Practice in South Africa. Unpublished report to UNESCO. Faculty of Education, University of Natal, Durban.


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