Bio of Keynote Speakers

Prof. Loyiso Jita

Professor Loyiso C Jita began his career as a science and mathematics teacher, after graduating with Biochemistry and Microbiology from the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS). He later took up a lectureship position at the University of Zululand from where he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to read for a PhD at Michigan State University in the USA. In the mid-1990s, he worked as a Policy Researcher at the Education Policy Unit (EPU), University of KwaZulu-Natal where, among others, he led the compilation and presentation of the submission on the Violation of Educational Rights of South Africans, during apartheid, to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He joined the University of Pretoria (UP) in 2001, after a post-doctoral fellowship at Northwestern University in the USA and was later appointed the Director of the Joint Centre for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (JCSMTE) at UP. In 2008, he took up an appointment as an associate professor at the University of South Africa (Unisa), where he later became the inaugural Director of the School of Education. In 2011, he became a full professor and was appointed the acting Deputy Executive Dean in the College of Human Sciences at Unisa. He joined the University of the Free State (UFS) as a Research Professor in the School of Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Technology Education in 2012. In November 2014, he was appointed as the Inaugural SANRAL Chair in Science and Mathematics education. Professor Jita has published many articles on Instructional Leadership, Teacher Development and change, Science and Mathematics education, Lesson Study and has presented over 50 papers at local and international conferences. He has also supervised to completion over 40 PhD graduates and is currently the Dean of Education at the University of the Free State in South Africa.

Dr Mmaki Jantjies

Dr. Mmaki Jantjies is a South African computer scientist and currently leads innovation and transformation at Telkom, a leading telecommunications provider in South Africa. She has done extensive work in the field of technology for development in areas such as education technology, health technology as well as SMME technology adoption. She is a passionate advocate for digital inclusion, having founded a non-profit organisation focused on digital skills development for underprivileged communities. Dr Jantjies has received several recognitions for her impact on the South African technology sector and is an Aspen New Voices fellow , a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and also one of the South African Young Association of Scientists (SAYAS).

Associate Prof. Vukosi Marivate

Dr. Vukosi Marivate is an esteemed Associate Professor at the University of Pretoria, distinguished by his appointment to the prestigious ABSA UP Chair of Data Science. His expertise lies in the domains of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), with a profound focus on advancing Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques, particularly in underrepresented local or low-resource languages. In his role as the leader of the Data Science for Social Impact group, Dr. Marivate spearheads transformative projects across diverse sectors, including energy and public safety. His dedication to leveraging data science for societal betterment underscores his commitment to driving meaningful change. Beyond academia, Dr. Marivate is a catalyst for innovation and collaboration. He co-founded Lelapa AI, an AI startup dedicated to fostering technological advancement tailored to the African context. Additionally, he played pivotal roles in establishing the Masakhane NLP research foundation and co-founding the renowned Deep Learning Indaba, platforms aimed at nurturing talent and fostering community-driven research in AI and NLP. Through his multifaceted endeavors, Dr. Marivate exemplifies a profound dedication to advancing the frontiers of knowledge in data science and AI, while also championing diversity, inclusion, and social impact.