Vale Professor Manjula Waniganayake
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Vale Professor Manjula Waniganayake – Much loved academic, author and educator

Vale Professor Manjula Waniganayake – Much loved academic, author and educator

by Jason Roberts

March 25, 2024

Early learning organisations have shared their sadness at the passing of Professor Manjula Waniganayake, a well known and much loved author, academic, advocate and educator. 


“It is with a heavy, heavy heart that we share with you the devastating news that the widely-respected and much-loved Professor Manjula Waniganayale has passed away,” the Community Child Care Association said


“Manjula was a force of nature – a total powerhouse – and was completely dedicated to making the world a better place through her work. She was a highly-regarded academic, author and educator – but also a kind and gracious mentor, colleague and friend.”


“The impact of Manjula is well beyond her 4 leadership books and 7 edited books on pedagogy, play, diversity and policy or her numerous journal articles,” Professor Fay Hadley and Associate Professor Kate Highfield said on the Early Childhood Australia page


“She will be so profoundly missed and the ECEC sector is feeling a bit broken but what she would be saying to us is – come on, pick yourself up, lead from the front and keep advocating for high quality ECEC!”


“Sleep well, dear Professor. Thank you for lighting the fire in me to do and be more in the ECEC sector. Your influence, your kindness, and your leadership will forever be engrained in the souls of so many of us,” Sarah Louise Gandolfo said. 


A leading light in ECEC research and the community 


Ms Waniganayake commenced her career in early childhood education and care at the University of Sydney where she completed her Bachelor in Pre-Primary Education (with First Class Honours) before transitioning to the Australian National University to complete a PhD in Philosophy. 


Having discovered her passion for both early childhood and teaching Manjula joined the University of Melbourne as a Senior Lecturer where she stayed for fifteen years after which she transferred to Macquarie University as an Honorary Professor at the Macquarie School of Education. 


Manjula’s expertise was on educational leadership, early childhood policy especially on quality matters, as well as child and family diversity, and professional learning, mentoring and career development of early childhood personnel. 


She was also a published author of multiple books and one of four international scholars who oversees the preparation of articles from around the world, for inclusion in Bloomsbury’s digital platform dedicated to Education and Childhood Studies.


That being said, Manjula’s impact went well beyond her books and publications, a testament captured beautifully in a tribute to an unshakeable friendship and timeless bond that developed between Manjula and Daniela Kavoukas, a service leader who enrolled in a masters program that she oversaw. 


To read “Friends like us” click here

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