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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

Counterfeit HIV / AIDS drugs must be dealt with
2006-02-16

Some of the guests attending the lecture were from the left Prof Johan Henning (Dean:  UFS Faculty of Law), Dr Jayasuriya, Prof Voet du Plessis (Head: UFS Department of Mercantile Law) and Dr Ezekiel Moraka (Vice-Rector:  Student Affairs at the UFS).
Photo: Stephen Collett

Counterfeit HIV / AIDS drugs must be dealt with

An international legal expert who has worked with various UN agencies has called on governments to deal quickly and decisively with people dealing in counterfeit HIV / AIDS drugs.

The Vice-President of the Global Jurists Foundation and former head of the UNAIDS secretariat in Pakistan, Dr Dayanath Jayasuriya, was speaking at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.

Delivering a guest lecture on HIV/ AIDS and human rights in developing countries, Dr Jayasuriya said counterfeit drugs were spreading at an alarming rate throughout the world.  He said that in particular counterfeit HIV / AIDS drugs contribute to the vulnerability of persons living with HIV / AIDS.

“Only a few countries have integrated anti-counterfeit drug provisions into national legislation on medicinal drugs” he said.
According to Dr Jayasuriya, the violation of the rights of people living with HIV / AIDS is continuing despite the fact that many governments have adopted various charters and declarations that are meant to guarantee the human rights of citizens.

He said these violations have included the brutal murder of persons with HIV / AIDS.

Other violations include verbal abuse and physical injuries through acts of torture; deprivation or denial of access to employment; medical facilities, including drugs; accommodation; food; social service benefits; insurance; custody of children, and so on.

“In recorded human history HIV / AIDS is by no means the first ever major public health epidemic to confront human kind. However, none of the other epidemics generated the same degree and intensity of human rights concerns,” Dr Jayasuriya said.

 

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