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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

Elizabeth Molapo crowned Miss South 2016 First Princess
2016-03-22

Description: Elizabeth Molapo  Tags: Elizabeth Molapo

From the left are Anri Powell (Elizabeth Molapo’s mentor), Miss South Africa 2016 First Princess, Elizabeth Molapo, and designer/Miss SA judge Casper Bosman at Carnival City after the crowning.

“I remember feeling very happy and humbled,” said Elizabeth Molapo, Miss South Africa 2016 First Princess, about the moment she was crowned on Saturday 19 March 2016 at Carnival City, Johannesburg.

Molapo has been overwhelmed by the support she received since making the Top 12 last year. “It’s one thing to enter Miss South Africa and believe in yourself but it’s another to know that the judges, South Arica, and all the stakeholders believe in you.”

The Kovsie community is absolutely thrilled and delighted by the achievements of the former University of the Free State (UFS) BCom Economics student. "Elizabeth's talent, commitment, and grace are known to us and it is not surprising that she has fared so well in this national competition,” said Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS.

“Coming in the wake of the achievements of medical student, Rolene Strauss (Miss South Africa 2014 and Miss World 2014), Elizabeth has proven once again that the UFS is a place where beauty and talent are deployed in the service of humanity,” Prof Jansen added.

Molapo congratulated the winner of Miss SA 2016, Ntandoyenkosi Kunene. “I believe in Ntando, she’s such a beautiful and amazing woman and I believe she will carry that crown with the utmost honour and respect.”

The road ahead for Molapo holds a possible move to Johannesburg for a job offer by Cell C. She also plans to enrol for an honours degree in either Economics or Marketing, and hopes to represent South Africa at the Miss Universe contest.

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