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Are Children Seeds or Are They Soil?: A Comparison between Martha Nussbaum’s Capability Approach and Utilitarian Philosophy applied to Critical Thinking in the Rwandan Education System
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Much research has been done within the field of Education on how to integrate Human Rights in education, both as a class subject and as a value system. Similarly, the research field of Education also contains many discussions of how “critical thinking” is taught and what its role in education is and should be. This thesis instead approaches the topic from “the other way round” so to speak, by using a “human rights lens” to explore ethical and political views on the goals of education generally and the role of critical thinking in education particularly, as they appear within a particular educational context – Rwanda’s education system. The philosophy of education of utilitarianism and that of Martha Nussbaum’s Capability Approach are here compared and contrasted with each other and act as a theoretical framework for understanding the Rwandan education system as it appears through the reading of policy documents and through the experience of a selected group of Rwandan primary and secondary school students. The thesis argues that an ethically acceptable and stable philosophy of education should spring from a conception of human beings as ends and not means. Starting with such a conception of human beings, the goal of education becomes that of developing each individual’s capabilities to their fullest potential. Additionally, the thesis argues that the role of critical thinking in education should be regarded as central, as the capability for critical thinking enhances the flourishing of other human capabilities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 69 p.
Keyword [en]
Children’s Rights, Critical Thinking, Education, Human Rights, Nussbaum, Rwanda, Utilitarianism.
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-254488OAI: diva2:818427
Subject / course
Human Rights
Educational program
Master Programme in Human Rights
Available from: 2015-06-09 Created: 2015-06-08 Last updated: 2015-06-09Bibliographically approved

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