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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

Extension of the academic calendar
2016-03-21

At the Senate meeting which was held on 29 February 2016, a resolution was taken to extend the academic calendar by one week to make up for the lost academic week as a result of the recent student protest action. In particular, it was decided that the commencement of the mid-year exams be postponed by one week. The Faculty of Health Sciences was the only faculty that was allowed to stick to the initial dates.

At its meeting of 2 March 2016, Rectorate discussed this matter and resolved to endorse the resolution of Senate, namely that the mid-year exams will be postponed by one week and that only the Faculty of Health Sciences can stick to the original dates as stipulated in the calendar.

 

Undergraduate lectures

(Excluding Faculty of Health Sciences)

 

First semester

Lectures start: 1 February 2016
Lectures end: 20 May 2016

8-credit modules

1 February 2016 - 1 April 2016
11 April 2016 - 20 May 2016

Holiday:
22 - 24 March 2016

Easter Weekend: 25 - 28 March 2016

Main mid-year examinations

Start: 23 May 2016
End: 11 June 2016

Additional mid-year examinations


Start: 13 June 2016
End: 4 July 2016
End of first semester: 8 July 2016

Holiday:
11 July 2016 - 15 July 2016

Second semester

 

Undergraduate lectures

(Excluding Faculty of Health Sciences)

Lectures start: 18 July 2016
Lectures end: 21 October 2016

8 Credit modules

18 July 2016 - 2 September 2016
5 September 2016 - 21 October 2016

Holiday: 3 - 7 October 2016

Main end-of-year examinations


Starts: 24 October 2016
Ends: 12 November 2016

Additional end-of-year examinations


Starts: 14 November 2016
Ends: 3 December 2016

End of Second Semester

9 December 2016

UFS holiday: 8 August 2016.

UFS recess from: 20 December 2016 - 3 January 2017.

 

 

 

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