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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 staff gets a salary adjustment of 10,00%
2009-11-04

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) management and trade unions have agreed on an improvement in the service benefits of staff of 12,81% for 2010. This includes a general salary adjustment of 10,00% (according to the estimated government subsidy that will be received in 2010).

The agreement was signed on Friday, 30 October 2009 by representatives of the UFS management and the trade unions UVPERSU and NEHAWU.

The negotiating parties agreed that adjustments could vary from a minimum of 8,98% or more, depending on the government subsidy and the model forecasts. If the minimum of 8,98% is not affordable, the parties will re-negotiate.

An additional once-off, non-pensionable bonus of R2 000 will also be paid to staff later this year. The bonus will be paid to all staff members who were in the employment of the university on UFS conditions of service on 29 October 2009 and who assumed duties before 1 October 2009. The bonus is payable in recognition of the role played by staff during the year to promote the UFS as a university of excellence and as confirmation of the role and effectiveness of the remuneration model.

It is the intention to pass the maximum benefit possible on to staff without exceeding the limits of financial sustainability of the institution. For this reason, the negotiating parties reaffirmed their commitment to the Multiple-year, Income-related Remuneration Improvement Model used as a framework for negotiations. The model and its applications are unique and have as a point of departure that the UFS must be and remains financially sustainable.

Agreement was reached that 2,45% will be allocated for growth in capacity building to ensure that provision is made for the growth of the UFS over the last few years. An allocation of 0,14% will be made towards the final phasing in of fringe benefits. It will be used to provide group life insurance to all service workers. An agreement was also reached that 0,22% will be allocated towards structural adjustments of certain levels of the support services salary structure.

The implementation date for the salary adjustment is 1 January 2010. The adjustment will be calculated on the total remuneration package.

In 2009, a total salary adjustment of 16,13% was paid to staff and they received a once-off non-pensionable bonus of R3 390 at the end of 2008.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Deputy Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
3 November 2009

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