Melanie Walker currently receives funding from the National Research Foundation. Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. Doing so might include being treated with dignity or ensuring that their children get a decent education. How can this sort of development happen in a highly unequal society like South Africa? Many South Africans live in extreme poverty. Only a minority have access to higher education - a space that, at its best, produces people who can change society.
They cannot compensate directly for poverty. These people can go on to contribute to a more just society. For two years, my colleague Monica McLean and I conducted research to find out what kind of professional education in universities could equip graduates with the knowledge, skills and values to work for the public good.
We wanted to know how university graduates can enable dignified lives for others as envisioned by Sen and US philosopher Martha Nussbaum. Not all of these future professionals start out with ideas of public good foremost in their minds.
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But when characteristics on this list are developed through their university education, they may go on to work for the public good. For example, engineers might advance sustainable and affordable energy or initiate simple infrastructure projects in rural communities. Our research needed to define a set of capabilities agreed on by professional education groups. These were collected through in-depth interviews with students, lecturers, academic leaders, university alumni, non-governmental organisations and professional bodies. We examined what professionals do and how their university education has equipped them.
We used this data to draft a list of eight broad qualities - what Sen would call capabilities and functionings - that universities should consider when trying to produce public-good professionals. Informed vision: This involves being able to imagine alternative futures.
Graduates must understand how their profession is shaped by historical and current socio-economic, political contexts both nationally and globally. They also need to understand how structures shape individual lives. Affiliation: Professional graduates must understand their obligations to others. Care and respect for diverse people is crucial, as is understanding the lives of poor and vulnerable people. Graduates with this capability can develop relationships and rapport across social groups and status hierarchies.
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They respect different cultures, and are courteous and patient. Resilience: Quite simply, this involves perseverance in difficult circumstances.
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Social and collective struggle: Professional graduates must be dedicated to empowering communities and promoting human rights. They should be able to help formulate and implement policy, as well as identifying spaces for change. They must be equipped to lead and manage social change to reduce injustice. Such graduates are comfortable working in professional and inter-professional teams - and listening to all voices in any conversation.
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They must have the skills to build and sustain strategic relationships and networks with organisations and governments. Educators can help their pupils pursue higher education, explore career opportunities and compete in events they might otherwise have not thought themselves able to.
Students often look to their teachers as mentors with experience and knowledge, and, as an educator, you will almost definitely be asked for advice at some point during your career. Did you know that one in four students drops out of school or that every nine seconds, another student drops out? Aside from educating them on the hard facts about dropping out, teachers can also help assess the problem and figure out an alternative.
In such situations, teachers undoubtedly have the ability to change the lives of students. Students in this course will engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective teaching methods in the higher education context, while refining their own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy. Sponsored Program. Teachers as Role Models. Teachers Change Lives. Inspiration Have you ever had a teacher who inspired you to work harder or pursue a particular goal?
Guidance Teachers can also be a trusted source of advice for students weighing important life decisions. Teaching and Learning Strategies for Higher Education.