Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2017 2018 2019 2020
Previous Archive
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

UFS awards its innovative thinkers
2009-11-18

Here are, from the left: Prof. Van Wyk with first-prize winners Precious Setlaba and Themba Motsoeneng and Prof. Muriel Meiring, the students’ promoter.
Photo: Stephen Collett


The University of the Free State (UFS) recently announced the winners of the Innovation Fund Competition. This national competition, which is organised by the Department of Science and Technology aims to promote entrepreneurship through the commercialisation of the innovative ideas of young entrepreneurs.

Every participating educational institution first has an in-house competition in which a total prize money of R100 000 is at stake. At the UFS 14 business plans from students were received and evaluated by six external adjudicators. The three winners now have to take part in Phase II of the competition where 60 competitors from 20 universities will compete. The winners of the National Competition will receive prizes of up to R300 000. This money must be used for the development of the innovative idea with which the prize was won.

The first prize in the UFS’s Innovation Fund Competition of R50 000 was won by Themba Motsoeneng and Precious Setlaba from the Department of Haematology for the development of low-cost diagnostic assays for thrombotic diseases and bleeding disorders with the aim of supplying these test assays at a much lower cost to pathology laboratories all over the country. “This exciting idea appealed to many of the judges, especially because it can contribute to low cost health care in the country,” says Prof. Gerrit van Wyk, organiser of the Innovation Fund Competition at the UFS. The second prize of R30 000 was won by Charl Jaftha, MSc student in Physics. He has developed a low-cost hearing aid the size of a cigarette box. It contains a microphone and electronics to amplify the sound. The third prize of R20 000 was won by Adriaan Taylor and Jaco Brink, both MBA students. They designed a two-in-one lawnmower that would enable the average gardener with a bulky garden to shred the garden refuse and recycle it through composting or disposal through the normal disposal system. “One judge called this a novel use of existing technology,” says Prof. Van Wyk.
 

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept