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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

UFS sets deadline for applications
2007-11-03

The University of the Free State (UFS) calls on all prospective students wishing to study at the UFS in 2008 to submit their applications for admission by no later than 30 November 2007.

“This applies to first-time entering first-year students and senior students who have interrupted their studies for at least one year,” said Mr Vernon Collett, Registrar: Academic Student Services at the UFS.

According to Mr Collett students whose applications for admission are received after 30 November 2007 and until 15 January 2008 will be accepted subject to the availability of place on the programme they applied for.

Applications from prospective students with conditional exemptions will be accepted until 2 January 2008.

Prospective students who want to apply must pay a non-refundable fee of R130.
The signed application form must be accompanied by a certified copy of the prospective student’s identity document or passport and a proof of payment of the application fee.

The application form of a minor must be signed by his/her parent or guardian and the field of study should be clearly indicated.

“More than 26 000 students are registered at the UFS Main Campus for the 2007 academic year. We expect a considerable number of applications and foresee that our numbers for next year will be similar to what it is now,” said Mr Collett.

First-time entering first-year students from the Faculties of Economic and Management Sciences and the Humanities (including Education) will be welcomed by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, on Friday, 11 January 2008 at 09:00 in the Callie Human Centre.

The welcoming of students from the Faculties of Health Sciences, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Law and Theology will take place on Saturday, 12 January 2008 in the Callie Human Centre.

The registration of first-time entering first-year students will commence on 15 January 2008 and that of senior students on 21 January 2008 at the Callie Human Centre according to a programme.

Students who applied for admission after 30 November 2007 and are accepted can register from 4 February 2008

Lectures will commence on 4 February 2008 and the registration process will end on 8 February 2008.

Prospective students who want to apply for admission or who have any enquiries can call 051 401 3000 or visit the UFS web site at www.ufs.ac.za .

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
2 November 2007

 

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