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Professional capabilities, poverty reduction and transformation in South African universities HDCA annual conference, Lima, 9-12 September 2009. Melanie.

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Presentation on theme: "Professional capabilities, poverty reduction and transformation in South African universities HDCA annual conference, Lima, 9-12 September 2009. Melanie."— Presentation transcript:

1 Professional capabilities, poverty reduction and transformation in South African universities HDCA annual conference, Lima, 9-12 September Melanie Walker, University of Nottingham, UK

2 Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice (Nelson Mandela)

3 The research project Development Discourses: Higher Education and Poverty Reduction in South Africa. Funded by ESRC/DFID July 2008-December reduction/index.php Aim: To investigate how professional education in South African universities might contribute to poverty reduction and social transformation, using the capability approach as a theoretical and practical lens. What do universities and university-educated professionals owe to those living in conditions in poverty? How do universities produce professionals who are critical, analytical and have a deep social conscience?

4 Power and participation Implicit and explicit and threaded through all levels of inquiry and analysis: political and policy power of the South African government and elites, academic power, historically racialized power, pedagogical relations of power, power and knowledge, professional power, globalization and power. By implication skewed relations of power (social, economic, historical, political, educational) in one or more fields reduces participation esp. by those living in conditions of poverty.

5 Professional capabilities Professional capabilities to shift power, expand participation and reduce injustice. Index as an evaluative framework for university social responsibility and transformation in relation specifically to professional education, commitments and identities towards those living in poverty: 42% of South Africans are both poor and deprived (Klasen, 2000); Gini co-efficient in South Africa is 1:100 (Seekings and Nattrass, 2005) - A social justice imperative linking responsibility to effective power (Sen, 2008). Majority of the [South African] elite are distanced from the poor and feel little, if any sense of personal responsibility (Hossain et al, 1999, p.27). BUT Social consciousness could be operationalized educationally by asking what kind of education would produce such a professional; what enables and constrains their formation?: curriculum that fosters historical, political and social knowledge and understanding identity formation, commitment and professional values towards people living in poverty transformative learning and deliberative praxis pedagogies.

6 Core concepts: transformation [justice], poverty, public good Transformation : central to political discourse in South Africa after 1994 (Constitution most progressive e.g. Equality includes the full enjoyment of all rights and freedoms); redress of racial inequalities in South African society (79.5% African and 9.5% White); reduce poverty. Poverty: SA Speak out on Poverty public hearings in 1998, poverty not only about lack of financial resources, but more centrally about an absence of opportunities and choices which allow people to build decent lives for themselves and their families (Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, 2009) Public good: Mala Singh: a common space within which the content of moral and political goals like democracy and social justice can be negotiated and collectively pursued. She has argued that transformation in South Africa, in fidelity to its claimed radical roots must incorporate goals and purposes which are linked, even if indirectly, to an emancipatory and broad-based social and political agenda. Public good professionals have commitments to the well-being and agency of the publics whom they serve, including and especially individuals and groups living in poverty.

7 University transformation process A transformation process would involve universities contributing to human development in ways specific to their role as higher education institutions, including the academic preparation and professional formation of public service/public good professionals.

8 SA Context: Higher education HE under apartheid differentiated according to race and designed to reproduce social relations; now, HE a microcosm of society: fault-lines of race, class and gender, e.g. in 2006, 12% of Africans accessed higher education, compared to 59% of Whites. But White Paper on Higher Education (1997): contribution by HE to social transformation by combining economic priorities with promoting a democratic civil society: promote equity of access and fair chances of success; meet national development needs; support a democratic ethos and culture of human rights; contribute to advancement of knowledge and scholarship.

9 Developing a PCI Capabilities (effective opportunities to be and do) and functionings (actual beings and doings) -apply both to clients (comprehensive capabilities) and professionals (public-good professional capabilities). How is/can justice be advanced through professional education grounded in public good professionalism? As a prospective exercise (Alkire, 2008) how can generating a PCI help identify which concrete actions are likely to generate more justice/improved lives?

10 Individual biography conversions and autonomous agency Comprehensive capabilities for each person to have wellbeing and quality of life From Nussbaum, Wolff & De Shalit Expand comprehensive capabilities through professional capabilities and functionings Social responsibility of universities and professional education Professional capabilities formation and values -Vision -Resilience - Affiliation -Struggle -Emotions -Integrity -Confidence -Knowledge & Skills Public good professionals improve lives of disadvantaged and reduce poverty by expanding peoples capabilities POLITICAL (eg. Bill of Rights; Government policy) SOCIAL (eg. Welfare grants, service delivery, education, inclusive access to HE) ECONOMIC Opportunities and inclusion The relationship between comprehensive capabilities and professional capabilities and functionings

11 Multiple levels/layers (following Smith and Seward, 2009) Abstract conceptual levelCapabilities and functionings Basic levelComprehensive capabi lities for people to have well-being Secondary levelSelected professional capabilities and associated functionings Indicator/data levelCase studies of professional education

12 Data Collection - the cases UniversityCase(s)Respondents Acacia: HAU (Afrikaans) 23,000-70%W,30% B Theology and Engineering4-5 alumni; 4-5 student focus groups; 3-4 lecturers and HoD; Dean, PVC, NGO, Prof body (around 90 qualitative interviews, plus textual/documentary data and relevant statistics) Fynbos: HDU, 15,000 93% B, 5% W, 2%I Public Health and Law Silvertree: HAU (English), 21,000-60%B,40%W Social Development (Social Work)

13 Working with RWGs Research Working Group of three in each university site: PVC/Head of Educational Development, Dean, Three stages: reading and written comments; attending workshop in March; revising tables and a final meeting (October) to discuss how to embed the approach.

14 Emergent meta functionings and c ore capabilities Meta functionings of public good professionals as transformative agents who: expand the comprehensive capabilities of the poor act for social transformation and to reduce injustice make sound professional judgments recognize the full dignity of every human being. Through professional education the opportunity to form eight multi-dimensional core capabilities: 1. Informed Vision and Imagination 2. Affiliation (solidarity) 3. Resilience 4. Social and collective struggle 5. Emotions 6. Integrity 7. Assurance and confidence 8. Knowledge and practical skills

15 Four Interlocking Draft PCI Tables Based on theory, a rich data set and collaboration (still incomplete and provisional) 1. Evaluative framework for educational process and goals: (incommensurable) capabilities and achievable functionings. 2. Evaluative framework for institutional conditions. 3. Educational arrangements at Fcaulty/departmental level 4. Social Constraints: Legacy of apartheid Problems: agreement and operationalising

16 Draft [Public Good] Professional Capabilities Index (PCI): interlocking dimensions and levels of analysis 1. vision 2. affiliation 3. resilience 4. struggle 5. emotions 6. Knowledge & skills 7. integrity 8. confidence PROFESSIONAL CAPS. EDUCATIONAL ARRANGEMENTS departmental cultures building just future professional ways of being culture engagement legacy of apartheid (racial oppression) INSTITUTIONAL CONDITIONS SOCIAL ARRANGEMENTS curr. & pedagogy advancing criticism, delib, resp systemic & material based cultural Capability & Functioning resources & Constraints for prof. education in South Africa univs Biographies of dis/advantage (autonomous agency & capability to realize) META FUNCTIONINGS expand capabi- lities of the poor act for social transformation and to reduce injustice make wise prof. judgements recognise every persons full human dignity

17 Work in progress Achievements: deeper appreciation and understanding of university-based professional education contexts, practices, possibilities and constraints in South Africa. generation of capability lists that are evidence-based and collaborative; and, of interest and use to [some] professional educators. Working on: other-regarding agency as a principle of justice for public good professionalism theorising conditions for elite (professional) commitments to pro-poor policies theorising justice, capabilities, professionalism and the public good. theorising values/value formation measurement – what data, how, how complex, how reductive? impact and dissemination Missing: data on space of agency and capability realization for individual students with diverse amounts of capitals data on detailed pedagogical descriptions of capability formation under conditions of persistent inequalities

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