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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

A Rag procession to remember
2013-02-06

Photo: Albert van Biljon
05 February 2013


   YouTube Video

A Rag procession to remember and one of the best in years. This was the opinion of many spectators at the Kovsies’ annual Rag procession on Saturday 2 February 2013. Large numbers of people came to watch the procession moving through the streets of Bloemfontein as students showed off their floats.

A festive atmosphere prevailed along the route and some people came prepared with camping chairs and picnic baskets.

The proceedings began with a morning procession to the Twin City shopping centre in Heidedal and the Kenilworth shopping centre in Mangaung. About 10 000 food parcels were handed out in the two suburbs, while the UFS Cultural Office and KovsieFM entertained the residents.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, as well as members of the senior leadership, went along on the journey to the two suburbs. Dozens of children and adults were at the Twin City shopping centre where hundreds of balloons were released. Kovsie staff, students and members of the SRC at the Bloemfontein Campus met with members of the community and helped to hand out food parcels.

The main procession left from the Bloemfontein Campus at 18:00 and proceeded to the Old Grey’s sports grounds for the Rag concert. Rag-goers were entertained by the music group Mi Casa, the singing duo and twin brothers Locnville, as well as Bobby van Jaarsveld. People were also treated to a fireworks display.

The float of the residences Karee, Soetdoring and Imperium was announced as the winning float.

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