Jonathan Jansen

THE READER: Jonathan Jansen

The university vice-chancellor and education expert shares his reading favourites


Professor Jonathan Jansen has been the vice-chancellor and rector of the University of the Free State since July 2009 and has also served as the Dean of Education at the University of Pretoria. He has received honorary doctorates from Cleveland State University and the University of Edinburgh and holds a PhD from Stanford University which he attended as a Fulbright scholar.

What are you reading at the moment?

The most amazing book of the year – Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.

What book has had the greatest impact on you?

Eva Hoffman’s After Such Knowledge.

What is your favourite novel of all-time?

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

What were your favourite books as a child?

Anything written by Enid Blyton which my mom brought from the hospital where she worked for us to read.

What’s the last book you gave as a gift?

My own book – Letters to My Children.

What’s the last thing you read that made you laugh?

Ben Turok’s new book in which he denies he is a politician, describing himself rather as “an organic intellectual trapped inside parliament”.

Which book have you never been able to finish?

Long Walk to Freedom – I did not feel Mandela’s voice sufficiently in that book… and Long Walk is too long.

What book do you turn to for advice?

The Bible.

Your favourite magazine?

The New York Review of Books.

What book would you give to the President of South Africa to read?

Machiavelli’s The Prince.

Jansen’s most recent book, How to Fix South Africa’s Schools  (co-written with Molly Blank), is published by Bookstorm and available from



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