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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

Mercedes Benz invests in Tamie Mbombo’s company
2016-03-24

Description: Tamie Mbombo Tags: Tamie Mbombo

Tamie Mbombo means business: The Founder and CEO of Sollo Inc, the integrated marketing company endorsed recently by Mercedes Benz South Africa.
Photo:  Hannes Pieterse

A new Mercedes Benz 116 CDI Vito Tourer Pro, a financial injection of R85 000, and 12 months of media coverage by Mercedes Benz is what many Small to Medium Enterprises dream of. For Sollo Inc, that dream became a reality recently after the company won the Boost Your Business 2015 national competition.

In 2012, when Tamie Mbombo was an Investment and Management Banking student at the University of the Free State (UFS), he founded an integrated marketing company, and named it Sollo Inc. The company was launched at the IdeaStart Accelerator, a business incubator for UFS student entrepreneurs.

Four years later, on Friday 18 March 2016, Sollo Inc reached new heights when one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers presented the Founder and CEO of Solo Inc with a Vito sponsorship at the Bloemfontein Campus.

In addition to serving corporates and the public sector, as part of its social enterprise aspect, Sollo Inc offers certain services free of charge to small businesses. “We capacitate start-ups with organisational skills and financial management as well as marketing education,” explained Mbombo.

Sollo Inc was selected as a winner based on the authentic story behind how Mbombo conducts business. “Mercedes Benz has invested quite a huge sum of money in print and digital media placements as platforms to give exposure to the story behind Sollo Inc,” said Adeesha Ramprith, Client Service Manager at Aqua Online,  Mercedes Benz’s digital marketing agency.

The IdeaStart Accelerator office has commended Mbombo as an example of how young entrepreneurs should keep their ears to the ground, and grab opportunities that might propel their businesses forward. “This is a great milestone for his business, mainly because of the challenges he has faced when it comes to mobility,” said Ayanda Makhanya, Student Entrepreneurship officer at IdeaStart Accelerator.

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