Training CBR Personnel in South Africa to contribute to the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities


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15 pp

Purpose: Recent conceptualisations of community based rehabilitation include empowerment of persons with disabilities as a key activity. This article reports on a study which explored the training of mid-level CBR workers in South Africa, with a specific focus on the ability of the course participants to address the oppression and empowerment of persons with disabilities.


Method: Over a three-year period, one cycle of action research was conducted in a non-government organisation that conducts mid-level CBR training in South Africa. Data collection methods included in-depth interviews with staff, students and past graduates of the course, document analysis, participatory rural appraisal techniques and two focus group discussions with the students’ clients.


Results: Personnel, who had been trained in CBR before the year 2003, were found to have some difficulty in explaining the social model of disability and the oppression of persons with disabilities at a cultural and structural level. It was noted that after changes were implemented in the CBR course, the students had an orientation to working with, rather than for, persons with disabilities. They began to understand the complexities of empowerment and also engaged in social action to address the oppression of persons with disabilities.


Conclusions: The CBR Guidelines require a new skill-mix in mid-level CBR personnel. This study illustrates a possible training approach which can contribute to the development of these skills.

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