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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

Dednam brothers qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing
2008-05-16

 
Roelof  and Chris Dednam

The Badminton World Federation included the South African doubles pairs, Chantal Botts and Michelle Edwards, as well as the UFS students Chris and Roelof Dednam, in its Olympic list of invited qualifiers for the Olympic Games in Beijing. Both the women's and men's doubles events will include 16 pairs.

Badminton South Africa and Sascoc will have to decide by the end of May whether the players will be included in the South African Olympic Team.

The Dednam brothers qualified by accumulating points in ten tournaments in 2007 and 2008.

In their endeavour to qualify amidst the semi-professional players of especially Asia and Europe, Roelof was assisted financially by Badminton South Africa and Sascoc's 'Operation Excellence'. Chris was assisted through an Olympic Solidarity bursary of the IOC.
 

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