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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

UFS salary model makes salary adjustment of 16,13% possible
2008-12-11

Staff from the University of the Free State (UFS) will receive a salary adjustment of 16,13% for 2009. This adjustment is 2,78% higher than the 13,35% that was agreed by the management and unions last month.

The UFS has received the actual state subsidy for 2009 from the Department of Education. The amount is significantly higher than previously calculated as a result of a once-off inflationary adjustment that was made.

“The good news is that, as a result of the application of our Multi-Year, Income-Related Remuneration Improvement Model, this increased subsidy can be passed on to staff members in full,” said Mr Lourens Geyer, Director of Human Resources at the UFS.

“We are grateful that we can pass on this favourable salary adjustment to UFS staff members. This adjustment makes our remuneration packages more competitive with those of other universities, and also facilitates the retention of skilled personnel. We have experienced an exceptionally challenging and difficult 2008. For this reason, we are grateful that we are able to compensate staff members for their hard work and loyal support in a special way by granting this excellent salary adjustment,” said Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS.

The implementation date for the salary adjustment is 1 January 2009. The adjustment will be calculated on the total remuneration package.
 

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
                Assistant Director: Media Liaison
                Tel: 051 401 2584 
                Cell: 083 645 2454 
                E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za

11 December 2008

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