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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

Shimlas shock Tuks by staying calm
2016-02-19

Description: KL News 2016 02 19  Varsitycup Tags: KL News 2016 02 19  Varsitycup
Prop Ox Nche was one of the substitutes who had a huge impact against Tuks in Pretoria on 15 February 2016. Nche and other Shimlas substitutes helped their team wipe out a massive deficit. Photo: Johan Roux.

He has never been involved in a match like this in his rugby career.
This is what Neil Claassen had to say about his team’s performance on 15 February 2016, when the Shimlas came up with one of the biggest fight-backs in the history of the Varsity Cup in Pretoria. According to the Shimlas Captain, his bench had a great impact, and this helped in shocking Tuks with 47-46 towards the end. This came after Tuks had been leading 43-15 in the 44th minute.

Great fighting spirit
The Shimlas' fighting spirit, and a new Varsity Cup points system in which converted tries may count up to 11 points, enabled them to wipe out this deficit.
“It was a tough match, especially after being so far behind,” Neil said.
“Coach (Hendro Scholtz) told us during half-time (when we were 15-36 behind) that we should stay calm."
“We weren't completely out of the game. We knew that if we eliminated unnecessary mistakes, we could make it.”

Impact from bench
This is the second consecutive match - the other was against Ikeys in Cape Town - where the Shimlas’ substitutes swayed the match. “The bench made a big difference,” Neil said. “We also scored an 11-point try, which helped a lot.”
The Shimlas’ fullback, Marco Mason, was named Player of the Match. He succeeded with a tricky conversion to gain victory for his team.

Injuries
The eighth man, Nardus Erasmus (knee) and flanker, Fiffy Rampeta (eye socket), sustained injuries, but should be able to play in the first home game against the Madibaz on 22 February 2016. The injured scrumhalf, Zee Mkhabela (concussion), could return for this match.
Shimlas are second on the log, with nine league points after two away matches. Maties has ten league points.

Young Guns get stuck
The University of the Free State (UFS') Young Guns got stuck 8-14 against Tuks in Pretoria on 15 February 2016.
Vishuis, the UFS's residence team, will start their onslaught in the residence league against Dagbreek in Stellenbosch on 22 February 2016.

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