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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

Annual Stagedoor music competition on 12 March 2016
2016-03-11

Description: 2016 KL Stagedoor Tags: Stagedoor

In action: Soetdoring and Kagiso residences, the winners of Stagedoor 2015.
Photo: Supplied

First-year students from all 26 residences on the Bloemfontein Campus are warming up their vocal chords for the annual Stagedoor competition. Double the fun and double the drama are in store this time around as residences will serenade the audiences in pairs.

An exciting twist has been added to this year’s competition: all performances will feature Justin Bieber’s hit song What do you mean.

Last year Soetdoring and Kagiso residences took the trophy home. Who will it be this year? Find out by getting your ticket before they are all grabbed up.
 
Details
Time: 17:00
Place: Kovsie Church (access via Agriculture gate/Gate 5)
Tickets: R30 for students | R60 for the public

To get your tickets or for more information, please visit Office 8, 9 or 49 at the Student Affairs Building, Thakaneng Bridge, Bloemfontein Campus. Alternatively, email Delia Moumakwe at moumakwemd@ufs.ac.za  or Tonderai Chiyindiko at chiyindikot@ufs.ac.za .

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