Professional capabilities, poverty reduction and transformation in South African universities

Walker, Melanie (2009). "Professional capabilities, poverty reduction and transformation in South African universities" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

This paper reports on a project investigating poverty reduction, understood as a 'human development transformation goal for South African universities. Specifically, professionalism and professional education is identified as a measure for evaluating the extent to which universities are contributing to social change. We take the preparation of professionals as one of the essential social functions of the university, situated at the interface of university and society. Public service professionalism and pro-poor are taken to be co-terminous in the South African context. Using the theoretical framing of the capability approach, we are exploring how professional education in universities might be understood as contributing to poverty reduction through expanding the capabilities and functionings of students in professional education, who in turn are able to expand the ‘comprehensive’ capabilities of poor individuals and communities. We are developing a human development public good professional capabilities index as a guide to action and monitoring of educational change.
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