Teaching policy literacy: a case study from the field of disability and rehabilitation studies

  • Chioma Ohajunwa, Dr Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Lieketseng Ned, Dr Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Rosemary Luger, Ms Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Martha Geiger, Dr Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Keywords: Authentic learning, Disability and rehabilitation, Policy literacy


Policies guide how we practice as professionals and service providers. A critical engagement with policy analysis is needed and the field of disability and rehabilitation is no exception. This is because the discourse of rehabilitation is a fluid construct that has been subject to the changing understandings of, and approaches to, disability. Research indicates that professionals and service providers struggle with the divide that regularly exists between policy formation and policy implementation. Reasons for this divide include the fact that the process of policy formation does not take the context of implementation into account, leaving professionals and service providers on their own to interpret and apply the policy to their work. We posit that policy literacy is a core contributor to the capacity to understand policy content, to interpret it in light of existing factors and to implement policy in a contextually relevant manner. In this paper, we describe a practice-based teaching innovation of authentic learning through which a cohort of 11 postgraduate diploma student-participants was supported to address the challenge of understanding, implementing and contributing to policy in their own work contexts.


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