n South African Journal of Higher Education - Making lives go better : university education and 'professional capabilities'

Volume 24, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article charts a research project on higher education and poverty reduction chronologically, mapping the process of thinking through and generating an Index of public-good professional education based on literatures; empirical data from actors-lecturers, students, alumni, professional bodies and NGOs; and participatory dialogue. Amartya Sen's capabilities structured the project theoretically, in particular underpinning the original formulation of 'professional capabilities' to redefine what counts as being professional. The article further addresses what later emerged as the importance of a broader focus on human development as structuring change and quality in professional education and universities. At the heart of the article's argument is that professional education in South African universities is one area which shapes the relationship between the integrity of professional life and the health of civic cultures, and where an 'other-regarding' social consciousness might be fostered through educational arrangements and policy, even in the face of history and social constraints. The Index is presented as an invitation to focus further debate not only in South Africa but globally about higher education, the public good and poverty reduction.

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