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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

PwC invests in student potential at UFS
2017-02-28

Description:PwC invests in student potential  Tags: PwC invests in student potential  longdesc=

From the left are: Cassius Coetzee, Marketing
Manager at PwC, Mbalentle Mdange and
Clementine Molaeng, both accounting students
at the UFS, and Belinda Janeke from the Career
Development Office at the UFS.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan

Corporate Bloemfontein has made it its mission to invest in the potential of students, which is exactly what PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) set out to do with its competition for accounting students.

PwC to join UFS Career Fair in 2017

The Career Development Office at the University of the Free State (UFS), in partnership with PwC, held a competition in which students had the opportunity to win book vouchers.

Cassius Coetzee, marketing manager at PwC, did the handover at the UFS which saw Mbalentle Mdange and Clementine Molaeng each walk away with book vouchers to the value of R1500, as well as goodie bags from the Career Development Office.

Belinda Janeke from the Career Development Office said it was always a pleasure working with the PwC team and said they would be joining the UFS Career Fair later this year.

Corporate companies and the community

Vicky Simpson, from the Department of Institutional Advancement, said there were businesses and organisations that believed in making a difference in the lives of students. “We commend each of them for their passion and enthusiasm. Collaboration is the key to the success of our community. People matter to us and even more so, the important role we play within our community.”

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