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29 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Pexels
Prof Melanie Walker
Fostering human capabilities in universities may potentially transform education, says Prof Melanie Walker.

Education is at the centre of human life, and has the potential to be a crucial support for democratic life. Prof Melanie Walker’s recent research paper strikes a balance in dealing with people, education and the implications for democracy through the lens of human capabilities theory and practice and her own research.

People and papers

In her capacity as the SARChI Chair in the Higher Education and Human Development Research Programme at the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Walker recently published a paper titled: Defending the Need for a Foundational Epistemic Capability in Education. It appeared in the special issue of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities in honour of renowned Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s 85th birthday.

Nurturing epistemic justice

Within the context of existing literature such as that of Sen’s concern with the value of education on the one hand, and public reasoning on the other, Prof Walker argues for a foundational epistemic capability to shape the formal education landscape – as well as quality in education – by fostering inclusive public reasoning (including critical thinking) in all students. It would contribute to what Sen calls the ‘protective power of democracy’ and shared democratic rights, which, he argues, are strongly missed when most needed.

“Sen’s approach asks us to build democratic practices in our university and in our society in ways which create capabilities for everyone. If our students learn public reasoning in all sorts of spaces in university, including the pedagogical, they may carry this into and back to society,” she said.

Educating for equality

Empowering society and fighting for justice are some of the crucial contributions made possible through fostering the epistemic capability of all students. “The capability requires that each student is recognised as both a knower and teller, a receiver and a contributor in critical meaning and knowledge, and an epistemic agent in processes of learning and critical thinking,” states Prof Walker.

In a young democracy like South Africa’s, inclusive public reasoning becomes all the more essential in order to achieve equality, uphold rights and sustain democracy as enshrined in the constitution, thereby improving people’s lives. 

News Archive

USSA cross country 2008
2008-10-16

The student cross country championships of 2008 took place on the 29 and 30 September 2008 at the University of Kwazulu Natal.

‘n Total of 109 athletes took part. The Kovsies men`s team was Boy Soke, Johan Cronje, Michael Tlhoro, Dirk Gouws, Ben Smit and Antonie Peens. The womens team was represented by Este de Jager, Abongile Lerotholi, Thandi Malindi, Rone Reynecke en Maryna Swanepoel.

The women’s team took the honours by winning the team competition in the 4km race. They finished as follows: De Jager 3rd, Lerotholi 5th, Malindi 6th, Reynecke 7th and Swanepoel 16th.

The men’s team also did well under circumstances – Our number 2 and 3 runners were injured and Antonie Peens, our number 5, was diagnosed with measles on the morning of the race. They finished 3rd in the men`s 4km race. However the men can kept their heads high. They finished as follow: Soke 2nd, Cronje 12th, Tlhoro 17th, Gouws 29th and Smit 39 th.

In the road relay race our womens team again did us proud by winning the race by a huge margin. Our team was Thandi Malindi, Abongile Lerotholi and Este de Jager.

The men`s team perform well under difficult circumstances by finishing 4th.  The team was Dirk Gouws, Johan Cronje, Michael Tlhoro en Boy Soke.

Este de Jager

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