The paper explores how higher education practice is failing the majority population in South Africa, and offers some critical insights into the nature of ‘othering’ that is prevalent in many health education programmes around the world.
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.
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