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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

Greyhound racing: Public input needed
2009-02-03

Members of the public have a second opportunity to make submissions regarding the possible legalisation of greyhound racing in South Africa.

A research team from the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS), in conjunction with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), will hold a second round of public consultations in Gauteng, the Free State, North West, the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal in February and March this year.

During the first round of consultations last year the research team, under the supervision of Prof. Elizabeth Snyman-Van Deventer of the UFS, received written submissions from interested members of the public and various associations.

The purpose of this research project is to give an objective overview of the greyhound racing industry nationally as well as internationally. This includes aspects such as animal welfare, social, economical and political issues and the legal framework pertaining to greyhound racing.

The study focuses on the current situation in South Africa and internationally regarding the jurisdictions where the sport is currently active and the current legal framework.

It will also include a comparative study of the situation in countries such as the United States of America, Ireland, England, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Vietnam.

Greyhound racing was banned in South Africa years ago because gambling was regarded as immoral at that time. Now that gambling has been legalised and is regulated there are debates on the legislation of greyhound racing.

The animal welfare and protection groups are against the legalisation of greyhound racing, while other role players have been calling for the racing to be legalised and regulated.

The public consultations will take place as follows:

• 6 February 2009, 09:00-12:30, Protea Edward Hotel, Durban
• 13 February 2009, 09:00-12:30, Protea Sea Point Hotel, Cape Town
• 20 February 2009, 09:00-12:30, Protea Marine Hotel, Port Elizabeth
26 February 2009, 09:00-12:30, Garden Court Hotel, Bloemfontein
• 27 February 2009, 09:00-12:30, Protea Manor Hotel, Hatfield, Pretoria
• 6 March 2009, 09:00-12:30, Garden Court East London, Esplanade, East London
• 13 March 2009, 09:00-12:30, Willows Garden Hotel, Potchefstroom

For further information, members of the public who are interested in attending these consultations should contact Mpho Mosing of the dti at 012 394 1504/083 436 5534 or Prof. Snyman-Van Deventer at 051 401 2698 or e-mail it to snymane.rd@ufs.ac.za  
 

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