Original Research

Revisiting the roles and responsibilities of speech-language therapists in South African schools

Anna Maria Wium, Brenda Louw
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 60, No 1 | a8 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v60i1.8 | © 2013 Anna Maria Wium, Brenda Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2013 | Published: 27 November 2013

About the author(s)

Anna Maria Wium, Department Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Limpopo, Pretoria, South Africa
Brenda Louw, Professor Emeritus, Department Communication Pathology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The role of speech-language therapists (SLTs) in schools in South Africa needs to be revisited based on the changing educational needs in the country. Th is article builds on a paper by Kathard et al. (2011), which discussed the changing needs of the country with regard to the role of SLTs working in schools. South African policy changes indicated a shift from supporting the child to supporting the teacher, but also place more emphasis on the support of all learners in literacy in an eff ort to address past inequities. Th is paper addresses several of the questions that emerged from Kathard et al. and explores the collaborative roles played by SLTs on four levels in the education context. Collaboration at the learner level (level 1) focuses on prevention and support, whereas collaboration at the teacher level (level 2) is described in terms of training, mentoring, monitoring and consultation. Collaboration can also occur at the district level (level 3), where the focus is mainly on the development and implementation of support programmes for teachers in areas of literacy and numeracy. Collaboration at the level of national and provincial education (level 4) is key to all other roles, as it impacts on policy. Th is last level is the platform to advocate for the employment of SLTs in schools. Such new roles and responsibilities have important implications for the preparation of future SLTs. Suggestions for curricular review and professional development are discussed. It is proposed that SASLHA responds to the changes by developing a position statement on the roles and responsibilities of SLTs in schools.


roles and responsibilities; collaboration; South Africa; speech-language therapists; teachers; learners; literacy; communication


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