A failure of care : a story of a South African speech & hearing therapy student.
The South African 'helping' profession of Speech and Hearing Therapy (SHT) is unable to train sufficient numbers of Black African First-Language (BAFL) speaking graduates to support claims of equity in service provision to the population as a whole. The first part of this study presents a model of professional development that argues for the profession's epistemological foundations to be significantly implicated in creating a training programme that is both structurally racist and resistant to fundamental change. Set against this, however, is the socio-political context of South Africa that is demanding educative parity. This study, therefore, attempts a re-problematisation of the professional curriculum by firstly re-locating the research approach away from the problematic epistemological foundations of the discipline, and secondly, by introducing the historically marginalised voice in professional curriculum debates: A BAFL-speaking student who has experienced significant difficulty in negotiating the professional curriculum. This life-history study is, therefore, aimed at revealing a student's interpretations of her training through the lens of her past life experiences. Nolwazi's story points to a fundamental difference in conceptualising the nature of 'help' or 'care', from that of her professional training programme. As a result, and while claiming that the rational, objective discourse of the training programme teaches separation of therapist from client, she experiences significant alienation from the teaching and learning process. On the basis of her analysis offering a significant resonance to the arguments put forward in developing the current model of professional training, an alternative model of curriculum process for a therapeutic discipline is presented. Realistically, however, it is suggested that a curriculum founded on 'care' will not supersede that based upon 'separation' - because of the interests served in maintaining the latter. It is concluded that the professional training programme will be able to resist change to its epistemological foundations, and that issues of inequity will become obsolete, once South African schools are able to provide a sufficient pool of BAFL speaking students who have been educated to accept western rationality as the legitimate basis for the expression of a health profession's 'care.'