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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

Rag teamwork leads to Armentum, Emily's float
2016-02-04

Description: Rag video screenshot Tags: Rag video screenshot
Rag video clip

Perhaps the residences Armentum and Emily Hobhouse were thrown into the deep end, but they still wanted to prove a point.

This is according to Hanko Minnaar, Residence Committee member for Rag at Armentum, shortly after the residences were announced as overall float winners of the University of the Free State (UFS).

According to Minnaar, Emily Hobhouse and Armentum overcame the challenge of building a float as a two-residence team, while most of the other hostels were in teams of three.

On 30 January 2016, after about two weeks of hard work and sweat, the residence twosome was named the winner at the Bloemfontein Campus.

“I am very proud. We couldn't have asked for more,” Minnaar said, after the residences Armentum and Emily Hobhouse celebrated their victory with house songs. “Anything is possible through teamwork.”

Tom and Jerry, Olaf and a Steri Stumpie

 The theme for this year was “Cartoons, Animation, and Children's Snacks”. Among other items, Armentum and Emily Hobhouse had Tom and Jerry, Olaf from Frozen, a Steri Stumpie, and a box of Astros on their float.

Description: Rag procession photo Tags: Rag procession photo

Photo: Charl Devenish

“We thought hard about what we wanted,” Minnaar said.

“We also asked some children, and they said that Tom and Jerry is a favourite, and Olaf has always been a winner as well. And Steri Stumpies, of course. Who doesn't like Steri Stumpies?” The residences Marjolein, Veritas, and Akasia were second overall, with Karee, Vergeet-My-Nie, and Sonnedou third.

Colourful processions

The events of the day started off with a morning procession from the Pelonomi Hospital to the Twin City Mall in Heidedal, where students and the community celebrated together, and meals were distributed.

The evening procession, from the Tempe robot in Nelson Mandela Drive to the Old Grey Sports Grounds, was greeted by hordes of spectators along the way.

Artists and Co captivate audience

In the evening, music lovers were entertained at Old Grey Sports Grounds by the legendary artists Vusi Mahlasela, the talented Karen Zoid, and an energetic Francois van Coke.

Local bands, Rise in Red and Simple Stories, added to the excitement. To top it all off, a special laser show made for a colourful visual bonus, coupled with great sound.

2016 Float results
Rag photo gallery

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