UCT creates an African voice for disability

10 March 2003
IN PURSUIT of the goals of the African Decade of Disabled People (2000–2009), UCT has succeeded in creating an African voice for disability through a new MPhil in Disability Studies.

The programme, driven by the Disability Rights Movement in South Africa, will create a platform for debate and discussion between academia and the disability sector, policymakers, the public and private sector and the corporate sector.

The MPhil in Disability Studies is an inter-disciplinary and inter-faculty, collaborative initiative between the faculty of health sciences and the Graduate School of Humanities at UCT. It draws on the expertise that already exists within the departments of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the department of Psychology. Thirteen students have enrolled for the course this year, 10 of whom are disabled people or parents of disabled children.

The programme aims to increase awareness and inform participation in disability issues (related to all sectors of society) at a teaching, research and policy level. The programme will also stimulate research in disability issues.

Students will be able to appreciate the shift from seeing disability from a welfare and charity perspective, to viewing disability from a human rights and development point. They will also critically analyse and debate the different models and approaches to disability and will relate these to policy and practice.

In addition, students will get the opportunity to critically analyse and debate issues in both international and national policies, to ensure the integration of disability at all levels of governance and civil society.

Ultimately, they will apply this new knowledge and these skills in disability-related research and practice.

Professor Dele Amosun, Head of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences, says that the new MPhil in Disability Studies will stimulate research in an area that has been largely neglected by academia.

“We have identified a need for methodological care and vigilance surrounding the political relationship of such research. Many disabled people have regarded much research as alienated from their experiences.”

He said that potential research areas would focus on the key policy issues outlined in the White Paper on an Integrated National Disability Strategy. These included debates on illness, disability and health systems research, as well as on disability prevention strategies, with a specific focus on poverty, development and the consequences of violence and war.

For further details kindly contact Theresa Lorenzo at 021-406-6395, Professor Dele Amosun at 021-406-6402 or Brian Watermeyer at 021-650-3874.

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Monday Monthly

Volume 22 Edition 04

27 Mar 2003

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