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Shirley Pendlebury: A multi-faceted leader exits the Children’s Institute

By Charmaine Smith, CI communication and knowledge manager
July 2012

Prof Shirley Pendlebury’s career experiences were seemingly a perfect mix to equip her for the position as director of the Children’s Institute (CI). In the mix are academic qualifications in education with specialisations in politics and philosophy – and a post-graduate diploma in typography and graphics. Added to this are work experiences in her early years at a printer, as a teacher and as a library assistant (where she proved so competent in her knowledge about books that she was appointed to lecture to student teacher-librarians on the history of illustrated children’s books, and on book design and print, amongst other subjects).

The bulk of her professional life – first at the Johannesburg College of Education, and later as the head of the School of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand – gave her invaluable insight and know-how on the workings of academic institutions.

This background served her well in heading the Children’s Institute team who are known for their research-relevance to policy and practice, publications that translate complex academic evidence for multiple audiences, and education and advocacy on the situation and needs of South Africa’s children.


The publication [SA Child Gauge] is definitely of great value not to me alone but to the entire country. Such reporting is crucial in driving the country’s commitment to children’s rights.
Office of the Deputy Speaker, National Assembly, March 2006

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