Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2017 2018 2019 2020
Previous Archive
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

Five mega projects to help reposition the UFS
2008-02-01

The University of the Free State (UFS) today announced that it will focus on five mega-projects to help reposition the UFS in the next five years as one of South Africa’s leading universities that is successfully managing excellence and diversity.

Speaking at the official opening of the university today, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Frederick Fourie, identified the five mega projects as:

  • The successful implementation of strategic academic clusters to focus the teaching and research expertise of the UFS.
  • The development and implementation of new models of teaching and learning.
  • Finding new sources of income (including third-stream income) to minimise dependence on government subsidies and tuition fees.
  • Creating a new institutional culture for the university by finalising the Institutional Charter.
  • The ongoing transformation of the UFS in all its dimensions.

According to Prof. Fourie, the strategic clusters – initiated in 2006 – are a very important initiative which is aimed at making the UFS a world leader in six broad areas. The focus of the six clusters has now been determined. These clusters are not just research based, but will include postgraduate programmes and filter down to undergraduate learning programmes and curricula.

He also indicated that other research at the UFS will continue to be supported and funded as before.

The second project, to establish a new teaching and learning model, is meant to address current success rates which indicate the need for this issue to receive a high priority.

New income streams to enable higher levels of financial sustainability is the third project, especially in view of dwindling government subsidies and limits on student numbers. This is necessary to fund sustained higher levels of investment in the quality of academic activities and in the necessary capacity and facilities.

Prof. Fourie said the fourth project regarding institutional culture is an ongoing effort to create a sense of belonging for all staff and students at the UFS through the adoption of an Institutional Charter for the university.

“What the draft Charter does – in addition to describing overarching values espoused by the institution and its people – is to describe the outlines and constitutive principles of the ‘post-redress’ UFS,” said Prof. Fourie.

The Charter – initially launched in 2007 – is and remains a critical element of guiding transformation effectively and speedily towards a widely-accepted goal. It is a critical element of the “social sustainability and robustness” of a new UFS, especially in tumultuous political times.

The fifth project is the Transformation Plan, launched in 2007. “We simply must pursue this plan diligently, given our commitment to comprehensive and deep transformation, and to best practice transformation. All universities will have to face up to the challenge of transformation and the UFS can break new ground, as it did in the past by managing transformation innovatively and creating a campus where all can find their rightful place,” said Prof. Fourie.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
1 February 2008
 

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept