The contribution of the human development and capabilities approach to (professional) education at South African universities

Public lecture by Professors Melanie Walker, Viveinne Bozalek and Arona Dison

Theoretical framework “capabilities approach”, national project

Whose interests is higher education serving? What are people able to be? How do universities enable this “being”, especially for those living in conditions of poverty and without opportunities to access a university education?

There are 3 reasons these questions matter:

  • People living in poverty are dependent on pulic action and services ie. they have no private resources to invest
  • Socially conscious elites can play a role if they see themselves as having connections to people living in poverty
  • Professionals can make a positive difference in the everyday lives of people living in poverty

Theoretical approach that takes into account:

  • Human development – create an enabling enabling environment to enjoy long healthy lives, requires development by and for people with human priorities, wide and deep participation
  • Capabilities – real and actual freedoms that people have, to do and be what they value being and doing, wide range of choices in the kinds of lives they choose to lead, expansion of people's freedoms
  • Poverty – resource-based and or happiness, alternative is that the poor are deprived of a range of choices to be and do what they choose

What is the role of universities in contemporary times, in terms of human development? Balancing of personal development, economic opportunities, and social good. To be a social critic and space of public reasoning.

Contested purposes:

  • Globalisation (reductivisit, not about personal development, bottom line matters), markets in higher education, funding cuts, making particular kind of links with business, stratified, inequalities between north and south
  • Expansionist – questions of personal development don't score highly on university “league” tales

Universities must serve society as a whole, address the “moral urgencies”. Humanities are often sidelined with an emphasis on science and technology. “Magna Carta Universitatum (1998)” - wholistic approach to what a university can / should be.

Reach reasoned agreements about what we can change in order to meet the needs of society (government by discussion). If you have the capability to help others, you have an obligation to do so.

Human development values:

  • well being
  • participation and empowerment
  • equity and diversity (social justice, learning between communities, cultures, identities)
  • sustainability (global issues)

“Public good professionalism” = pro-poor. Recognising the humanity of the person sitting in front of you, must be socially conscious.

Meta-functionings (valuable beings and doings):

  • Expanding the comprehensive capabilities of people living in poverty
  • Acting for social transformation and to reduce injustice
  • Making sound professional judgments
  • Recognising the full dignity of every human being

What kind of professional education is necessary:

  • Praxis pedagogies
  • Contextual knowledge and understanding
  • Developing identity, commitment

UWC graduate attributes and the human capability approach. What are they (see Graduate attributes document)?

  • Qualities, skills and understandings a university community agrees its studnets should develop during their time at university and prepare their students as agenst of social good
  • Are generic, evident at the end of a degree
  • Attributes, not skills
  • Embedded in the curriculum, not additional outcomes or extra-curricular

Look at incorporating the UWC graduate attributes into the curriculum at a deep, integrated level. Also, look at the Education white paper (SA policy document)

Institutional change is required for GA to become a reality:

  • Requires commitment from institution
  • Admin and support services must become active contributors to the process
  • There are important consequences for renewal and alignment of the curriculum

These graduate attributes are relevant in a human capabilities approach to education, GA lack some of the additional concepts human capabilities bring

Get “moving from paperwork to pedagogy” Maki (2002), AAHE bulletin, page 2. Cited in Driscoll and Wood (2007).

human_development_and_capabilities_approach_in_professional_education.txt · Last modified: 2009/10/20 23:13 by Michael Rowe