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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 residences open on Bloemfontein Campus
2013-01-21

 

Photo: Johan Roux
21 January 2013



Beginning 2013, the Bloemfontein Campus is seeing the opening of two new residences where male and female students will be housed under one roof but in separate units. Each residence will house 250 students.

House ConLaurês and House Outeniqua were opened for their first-years and Residence Committee (RC) on Friday 18 January 2013. The two newly Residence Heads, Mr Frank Makhabane (ConLaurês) and Mrs Leani Wimble (Outeniqua) welcomed the new residents.

The uniqueness of these residences is that they will be the first co-ed residences on campus. These residences are wheel chair friendly with fully equipped disabled rooms available. All signage has also been done in Braille. Each floor of the new residences has two lounges, as well as a fully fitted kitchen.

The Prime of House ConLaurês, Sherilyn Roelofse, says, “We aim to create a living space that is holistic and welcoming and will allow our residence members to be able to excel in a number of things”. Sherilyn says ConLaurês comes from the word “Condo Laurus”, which means dreams of victory. The House’s slogan is “The Symphony of Dreams”. Students came up with the name for the residence.

Tsatsi Mokoena, RC member responsible for RAG at House ConLaurês says RC members have been working hard for the past few months, trying to imagine how to do things without a physical structure. ConLaurês will be a residence with an inspirational living space where each student feels welcome, respected for who they are and at home, so that they will have the confidence to follow their dreams.”

The Prime of Outeniqua, Vusumzi Mesatywa says, “Change is always welcome and that is the mindset that we will be embracing as the new residences. When a student graduates, we need them to graduate not only as academics, but also as humans, holistic beings”.

Marla Stanier, RC First-Year Mentor at Outeniqua, says that new experiences await every student that walks through the doors of the residence. “As excited as we are, this new experience will test us in many ways.However, if we stand together as one, we will succeed.”

Mr Quintin Koetaan, Director of Housing and Residence Affairs, says, “The opening of ConLaurês and Outeniqua is a dream come true, providing accommodation for a new generation of students in the 21st Century”.

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