Decoloniality and healthcare higher education: Critical conversations.

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
(c) 2023 The Author/s
BACKGROUND: We explore the theoretical and methodological aspects of decolonising speech and language therapy (SLT) higher education in the United Kingdom. We begin by providing the background of the Rhodes Must Fall decolonisation movement and the engagement of South African SLTs in the decoloniality agenda. We then discuss the evolution of decoloniality in SLT, highlighting its focus on reimagining the relationships between participants, students, patients and the broader world. OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of this discussion is to fill a gap in professional literature regarding decoloniality in SLT education. While there is limited research in professional journals, social media platforms have witnessed discussions on decolonisation in SLT. This discussion aims to critically examine issues such as institutional racism, lack of belonging, inequitable services and limited diversity that currently affect the SLT profession, not just in the United Kingdom but globally. METHODS: The methods employed in this research involve the engagement of SLT academics in Critical conversations on decolonisation. These conversations draw on reflexivity and reflexive interpretation, allowing for a deeper understanding of the relationship between truth, reality, and the participants in SLT practice and education. The nature of these critical conversations is characterised by their chaotic, unscripted and fluid nature, which encourages the open discussion of sensitive topics related to race, gender, class and sexuality. DISCUSSION POINTS: We present our reflections as academics who participated in the critical conversations. We explore the discomfort experienced by an academic when engaging with decolonisation, acknowledging white privilege, and the need to address fear and an imposter syndrome. The second reflection focuses on the experiences of white academics in grappling with their complicity in a system that perpetuates racism and inequality. It highlights the need for self-reflection, acknowledging white privilege and working collaboratively with colleagues and students toward constructing a decolonised curriculum. Finally, we emphasise that while action is crucial, this should not undermine the potential of dialogue to change attitudes and pave the way for practical implementation. The paper concludes by emphasising the importance of combining dialogue with action and the need for a nuanced understanding of the complexities involved in decolonising SLT education. CONCLUSION: Overall, this paper provides a comprehensive overview of the background, objectives, methods and key reflections related to the decolonisation of SLT higher education in the United Kingdom. It highlights the challenges, discomfort and responsibilities faced by academics in addressing decoloniality and emphasizes the importance of ongoing critical conversations and collective action in effecting meaningful change. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: What is already known on this subject Prior to this paper, it was known that the decolonial turn in speech and language therapy (SLT) was a recent focus, building on a history of professional transformation in South Africa. However, there was limited literature on decoloniality in professional journals, with most discussions happening on social media platforms. This paper aims to contribute to the literature and provide a critical conversation on decolonising SLT education, via the United Kingdom. What this paper adds to existing knowledge This paper adds a critical conversation on decolonising SLT higher education. It explores theoretical and methodological aspects of decoloniality in the profession, addressing issues such as institutional racism, lack of sense of belonging, inequitable services and limited diversity. The paper highlights the discomfort experienced by academics in engaging with decolonisation and emphasizes the importance of reflection, collaboration and open dialogue for meaningful change. Notably we foreground deimperialisation (vs. decolonisation) as necessary for academics oriented in/with the Global North so that both processes enable each other. Deimperialisation is work that focuses the undoing of privilege exercised by academics in/with the Global North not only for localising their research and education agenda but checking their rite of passage into the lives of those in the Majority World. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work? The paper highlights the need for SLT practitioners and educators to critically examine their practices and curricula to ensure they are inclusive, decolonised and responsive to the diverse needs of communities. The discussions emphasise the importance of addressing institutional racism and promoting a sense of belonging for research participants, SLT students and patients. This paper offers insights and recommendations that can inform the development of more equitable and culturally responsive SLT services and education programmes.
colonisation, critical conversations, decoloniality, speech and language therapy, Humans, United Kingdom, Colonialism, Racism, Language Therapy, Speech Therapy, Cultural Diversity, South Africa
Pillay M, Kathard H, Hansjee D, Smith C, Spencer S, Suphi A, Tempest A, Thiel L. (2024). Decoloniality and healthcare higher education: Critical conversations.. Int J Lang Commun Disord. 59. 3. (pp. 1243-1252).