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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

Springbok call-up tops Rhule’s dream season
2012-11-01

Raymond Rhule
Photo: Gallo Images
31 October 2012

We can add yet another name to our already impressive list of Springbok rugby players. Raymond Rhule has been included by Heyneke Meyer as one of five uncapped players for the Springboks’ upcoming European tour.

The nod from the selectors caps a tremendous year for the Ghanaian-born star. The former Technical High School Louis Botha pupil and current UFS student rose through the South African rugby ranks at a rate which can only be described as spectacular.

He was part of the Shimla team which competed in this year’s under-20 and senior Varsity Cups that culminated in inclusion in the victorious South African team at the under-20 World Cup.

Since then, he has been a fixture in the Free State Cheetah team in both the Vodacom Cup and the premier local rugby competition, the ABSA Currie Cup, gaining praise for his performance from the public and rugby experts along the way.

The 19-year-old wing has been the stand-out performer for a troubled Free State Cheetahs outfit, who had to see off the Eastern Province Kings in relegation playoffs to stay in the top division of the ABSA Currie Cup.

In an impressive season, Rhule scored eight tries, earning him the spot as the competition’s top try scorer.

Among a raft of awards, Rhule was announced as the UFS Junior Sportsman of the year for 2012 in October and has been nominated as the South African Rugby Union’s (Saru) Young Player of the Year.

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