Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2017 2018 2019 2020
Previous Archive
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

UFS releases draft charter to accelerate transformation
2007-02-02

The University of the Free State (UFS) today released a draft Institutional Charter which is intended to enhance and accelerate the ongoing transformation of the institution towards a non-racial, non-sexist future.

Speaking at the official opening of the university today, the Rector and Vice-chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, said the draft Institutional Charter, was an important milestone in the transformation debate for the university and the country.

“The draft charter acknowledges that black people, women and people with disabilities have been marginalised from job and developmental opportunities, within the higher education sector and at this university,” Prof Fourie said.

The charter commits the university to meeting the challenges of a transforming higher education institution in a developing society, in particular the challenges of nation-building, reconciliation, redress, non-racialism and non-sexism – and ultimately normalisation – within a high-quality academic institution.

The principles of the draft charter firmly signal the university’s commitment to diversity – attaining and maintaining substantive and sufficient diversity (including multiculturalism and multilingualism) – in its quest for quality and excellence. 
Prof Fourie said the draft charter seeks to build consensus among staff and students at the UFS about the ultimate goals of transformation at a higher education institution.

The charter proposes several basic values and principles that should guide the transformation process and at the same time serve as a basis for a future, normalised university - a promised land to transform towards.

The discussion document says academic quality is intrinsically linked to transformation and it commits the university to strengthening the core competencies of research, teaching and learning as well as community service so as to ensure a robust university for future generations.

“Indeed the thousands of matriculants, black and white, who apply to study at the UFS want to study at a good university, and a good university wants to attract the best black and white students and the best black and white staff, male and female,“ Prof Fourie said.

He said the draft charter also seeks to safeguard academic freedom and institutional autonomy as the foundation of critical inquiry and scholarship.

Regarding the critical issue of creating a new institutional culture, the draft charter commits the UFS to creating a sense of belonging for all members of the university – black and white, male and female, of whatever language, religious, cultural or economic background, as well as people with disabilities.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:  (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl@mail.uovs.ac.za
02 February 2007

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept