n African Journal of Rhetoric - Decolonizing health professionals' education : audiology & speech therapy in South Africa

Volume 7 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


We argue that there is an urgent need to transform how we educate health professionals in South Africa. We focus on Audiology and Speech-Language Therapy, which are health professions that manage people with communication disorders and swallowing difficulties. Our argument for a radical shift in higher education practice is linked directly to an untenable failure of care for the majority population. This failure is deeply rooted in the joint forces of imperialism, colonialism and apartheid which reflexively shaped these health professions' curriculum of practice, viz.: its science, education, policies and clinical practices. The key consequence of this historical precedence is a vastly inequitable practice that has not served the interests of the majority Black African population in South Africa. We refer to three key concepts, viz.: essentialism, reductionism and dis-othering to explain how the professions' curriculum of practice is inextricably intertwined with the colonial empire and its project of domination.

As part of regenerating practices, which are relevant for our people and context, we examine one avenue for change: our graduate education. We argue that only through strong political (re) conscientising in educational processes will we find new ways of being health professionals who take ownership of developing practices relevant to Africa. To this end we offer suggestions for how we might educate in a way that works to decolonise health services in South Africa.

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