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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

SRC President to advocate for all students during term
2017-04-10

Description: ' A Pres SK Tags: Pres SK

Skhululekile Luwaca, the newly elected SRC President
on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Photo: Johan Roux

 

With a grateful heart, Sikhulekile Luwaca takes up his position as Student Representative Council (SRC) President on the Bloemfontein Campus, after the results of the election were announced on 29 March 2017.

An integrated leader

Sikhulekile, known as SK among his peers, said that as a leader, he needed to integrate himself with the student community, and from there he would have the influence to make an impact on society. “I believe in being an open-minded leader who is open to engagement and peaceful resolutions.”

SK said he would like to represent the interest of all students and invited them to raise their concerns. By the end of his term, he wanted to have achieved a number of goals, which include the integration of off-campus students and to provide a shuttle service for them. He said he also wanted to establish and launch an SRC fund. Furthermore he plans to make sure that all structures of student governance are functional, to name but a few.

2017 SRC candidates

The SRC members at the Bloemfontein Campus are:

President: Sikhulekile Luwaca
Vice-President: Surprise Manyaiyi
Secretary: Nothando Hlophe
Treasurer: Ntombi Nhlapo
Student Development and Environmental Affairs: Silindelokuhle Mthethwa
Transformation: Mathlodi Leteane
Arts and Culture: Joseph Ntebele
Sport: Nombulelo Booi
Media and Marketing: Refilwe Motsumi
Student Accessibility and Support: Donald Litsoane
Legal and Constitutional Affairs: John Modukanele
First Generation Students: Mohau Lesebo
Academic Student Council: Sekese Rasephei
Rag and Community Service: Gert Jan van der Walt
Day Residence and Commuter Student Council: Gontse Choane
Postgraduate Student Council: Mpoi Makhetha
International Student Council: Takudzwa Nyamunda
On Campus Residence Council: Natasha Kabaso
Dialogue and Associations Council: Asive Dlanjwa
Student Media Council: Puseletso Mashego

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