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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

UFS cracks down on crime on campus
2006-03-15

A comprehensive plan to step up the security on the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, was approved by the Executive Management (EM) this week.

“The plan briefly comprises of the introduction of reasonable and affordable measures that will promote a safe campus and working environment,” said Rev Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service at the UFS.

“With the plan we want to try and create a user friendly, but safe campus,” said Rev Jaftha.

The plan is the result of an intensive investigation about campus security done by an EM task team.

The following measures will be implemented immediately in phases:

The five current vehicle entrances and exits will remain (i.e. the gate at Nelson Mandela Avenue, the gate at Roosmaryn, the gate at Agriculture, the Wynand Mouton Avenue gate and the Furstenburg Road gate).

The number of smaller pedestrian gates will be reduced and security at those remaining will be increased.
The fences around the campus will remain, upgraded and patrolled on a daily basis.

The security measures at high risk areas (e.g. the Kovsie Church) will be stepped up and the fences in these areas will be electrified.

Vehicle exit control will be stepped up at the gates by means of a mixture of electronic and compulsory visual security control.

Public areas, streets and footpaths will be patrolled and shrubs and trees will be cut and pruned. The streets, footpaths and buildings will also be lit. 

Speed reducing mechanisms will be implemented before and after the security control points at all the gates.
Additional staff will be appointed to facilitate the flow of traffic at the gates.

“Over and above these measures, the EM also approved in principle the installation of electronic equipment at all the entrance gates. This will include the installation of cameras,” said Rev Jaftha.

According to Rev Jaftha the installation of the electronic equipment will be complemented by the compulsory cutting and restarting of engines for all vehicles exiting the gates. The measure has been in force since 1 February 2006.

Last year special measures were put in place to safeguard residences and their inhabitants when security guards were placed at all the ladies residences. These measures will stay in force.

“Regular audits will be done to determine the effectiveness of the strategies and systems. Although crime in and around the campus grounds can never be completely eradicated, we want to strive to create an environment on campus and in the workplace where it can be limited,” he said.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
15 March 2006

 

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