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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

Breyten Breytenbach to speak on poetry and philosophy at UFS
2013-02-22

 

Breyten Breytenbach
Photo: Supplied
22 February 2013

The Department Philosophy is hosting a public lecture and panel discussion with the poet Breyten Breytenbach on poetry and philosophy on Wednesday 27 February 2013. Breytenbach will read from work that has never before been heard in public. Members of the public will also be able to ask him questions. The discussion will be in Afrikaans, with simultaneous interpretation to English and Sesotho. Entrance is free.

  • Wednesday 27 February 2013
  • 15:00
  • Odeion

Enquiries can be directed to Johann Rossouw at rossouwjh@ufs.ac.za

Short Breyten Breytenbach biography:

Breyten Breytenbach was born in 1939 on the banks of the Breede River in the Little Karoo. He studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town and left South Africa in 1959. His exile was confirmed after the Sharpeville massacre and his marriage to Yolande Ngo Thi Hoang Lien of Vietnamese origin, which brought him into conflict with the Mixed Marriages Act and the Immorality Act.

In 1964 he began publishing poetry, as well as prose. Since the early sixties of the previous century, he started exhibiting in various European art galleries. In 1975 he clandestinely returned to South Africa where he spent seven-and-a-half years of a nine-year sentence for terrorism in South African prisons. He lectured at various universities in both South Africa and the United States. He helped establish the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, and was co-founder of the Gorée Institute in Dakar, Senegal, where he is still involved. He works from Catalonia, Paris and Gorée.

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