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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

Sports physician receives prestigious award from SASMA
2009-11-25

 
Dr Louis Holtzhausen, Director of Kovsie Health at the University of the Free State (UFS) was recently awarded an honorary membership of the South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA). Dr Holtzhausen received this award from the Executive Committee of SASMA, together with prominent names in the profession such as Prof. Tim Noakes, Director of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine and founding member of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Science Academy, Prof. Martin Schwellnus, Professor of Sports Medicine, UCT and Sports Physician at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and Prof. Wayne Derman, also from UCT and recently the Chief Medical Officer of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

This award by SASMA goes to members of the medical and scientific community who have made significant contributions to the advancement of sports medicine. Dr Holtzhausen has been the President of SASMA and over the last two years the membership of this organisation has increased with 30%. He also established essential working relationships with key sports bodies in the country, including Sports and Recreation South Africa, the South Africa Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) as well as with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

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