Transformation of Higher Learning in South Africa: Perceptions and Understanding of Speech-Language Therapy and Audiology Undergraduate Students
Keywords:transformation,, higher education,, undergraduate students,, university,, South Africa, decolonisation, speech-language and hearing professionals
The professions of speech-language therapy and audiology in South Africa developed under apartheid and historically consisted of and catered to a predominantly white English- or Afrikaans-speaking minority population. Over 25 years into democracy, there continues to be a stark incongruence between the demographic profile of the South African population and the speech-language and hearing (SLH) professions in terms of “race”, linguistic, and cultural diversity, and this has implications for training as well as clinical service provision within the South African context. This article explores undergraduate students’ perceptions and experiences of transformation within South African SLH university training programmes through a cross-sectional descriptive survey research design. A self-developed questionnaire was used to collect data from students enrolled in SLH programmes at South African universities. Thematic analysis identified two themes: 1) progress towards attainment of transformation and, 2) visibility of transformation. These findings highlight the need for diversity through inclusivity, redressing past injustices and incorporating local knowledge into current training and practice. These findings have global relevance for transformation in higher education, not just in the field of SLH. Implications for translation of theory and/or knowledge into practice, with more visible and deliberate application of policy in curriculum reform and institutional culture, are raised.
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