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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

New violinist for Odeion String Quartet
2013-02-06

Samson Diamond
06 February 2013



The Odeion String Quartet has a new member, a young accomplished violinist with a string of awards to his name. Samson Diamond, who won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music in 2010, has joined the quartet. He is the first male member the quartet has had for about five years. The Soweto-born violinist replaced Denise Sutton, former leader and first violinist. He will lead the quartet, a flagship of the university and the only resident string quartet at a South African university. The other three members are Sharon de Kock (violin), Jeanne-Louise Moolman (viola) and Anmari van der Westhuizen (cello).

Twenty-eight year old Diamond, a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK, says he is looking forward to working with students from the Odeion School of Music. “I am sure there are many talented students here.”

The musician, who obtained both his Bachelor of Music Honours degree and his Masters of Music Performance degree with distinction, will be based in Bloemfontein on a full time basis. As a member of the quartet, he will be giving concerts, coaching chamber music for the various chamber ensembles and will also give individual lessons to some of the violin students at the School.

Diamond, who started playing the violin at age ten, boast a long list of achievements. At age 12, he was leader of the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble, one of the country's prominent youth projects. He was a founding member of the jazz classical band Quattro Fusion and former leader of the Diamond quartet. He has performed before many distinguished guests, including Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

Diamond says being the first male member in years will not bring about a change in the quartet He says it is about the standard of playing and the calibre of music.

“Music is music whether you work with men or women.”

Diamond’s first performance as member of the quartet will be on 21 February 2013. Details about the performance will be communicated later.

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