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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

Minister to visit University of the Free State’s job creation project
2007-11-12

A high level delegation led by the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, Ms Lulu Xingwana, will visit the Mangaung / University of the Free State Community Partnership Programme (MUCPP) in Bloemfontein on Monday, 12 November 2007, to learn more of the progress and implementation of job creation efforts in the Free State and the country.

The University of the Free State is involved in the National Programme for the Creation of Small Enterprises and Jobs for the Second Economy as part of the government’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA).

The UFS was appointed as a training coordinator for small enterprises and community based organisations using the MUCPP partnership model, informed by the successful Self-help Group model from the Indian NGO, Hand-in-Hand. It is hoped that this partnership model of the UFS can potentially serve as an example to other provinces as part of the programme to create small enterprises and jobs in the second economy.

The delegation that will visit the MUCPP site in Rocklands includes Minister Xingwana, Chairperson of the President’s International Investment Council (IIC), Dr Percy Barnevick, and the national leader of the Jobs for Growth Programme, Ms Tina Radebe.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@mail.ufs.ac.za  
9 November 2007
 

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