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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

Kovsies impress with first match in Varsity Cup Series
2012-02-08

 

Shimlas defeat 2011 Varsity Cup champions.

38-10. This was the final score of our Shimlas’ first match in this year’s Varsity Cup Series. What makes this score even more impressive is that the Shimlas defeated last year’s Varsity Cup champions, the Ikeys of the University of Cape Town. In so doing they compensated for last year’s defeat of 20-57.

There is no doubt that Shimlas are licking their lips for victory this year because in the first ten minutes of the match, they scored two tries, one each for scrumhalf Kevin Luiters and hooker PW van Vuuren.

Other point scorers were Pieter Rademan, Fanie van der Walt and Nico Scheepers.

The second half saw another two tries for the Shimlas, but it was especially the team’s rock solid defence which cemented their success.

Captain Lappies Labuschagne was named as the Man of the Match.

The Shimlas’ next match is against Madibaz (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) at 19:00 at Shimla Park on Monday 13 February 2012 .
 

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