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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

Kovsie singing sensation releases debut album
2017-02-16

Description:Hailey Clark, Deurmekaar Tags: Hailey Clark, Deurmekaar longdesc=

Hailey Clark, musician and
third-year BA Drama and
Theatre Arts student at the
University of the Free State.
Photo: Sonelle van Wyk.

Music was always something this singing sensation wanted to do from a very early age.

Sonet du Plessis, more famously known by her stage name, Hailey Clark, is a third-year BA Drama and Theatre Arts student at the University of the Free State (UFS). Her electronic pop debut album, titled Deurmekaar, was finally launched after a year of hard work and sacrifice.

Success in English and Afrikaans

Hailey, whose album features Afrikaans and English songs, says her music is influenced and inspired by a variety of local sounds and artists. “Dirk van der Westhuizen and Refentse – a new and upcoming artist – are two of the locals I look up to,” she says.

Reaching success at such a young age is the result of setting goals and achieving them. “Success is when you grow as a person and an artist in your music. You need to enjoy every moment of what you do and share it with other people,” Hailey says.

Future music producer and actress

With a bright future ahead of her, Hailey wants to become a full-time musician, but also wants to focus on acting, especially in films. “I want to perform as much as possible and hopefully become a music producer. I also have plans to do some acting as well.”

For all those who dream of becoming a musician, it’s hard work, Hailey says. “You have to know it is something you want to do and you have to commit to it. If it is what you want, keep focused and surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.”

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