Start Submission Become a Reviewer

Reading: Training CBR Personnel in South Africa to contribute to the Empowerment of Persons with Disa...


A- A+
Alt. Display

Original Research Articles

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


Sarah Rule

CBR Education and Training for Empowerment (CREATE), ZA
About Sarah

Dr Sarah Rule is the managing director of CREATE, a non-government organisation in South Africa, that has trained mid-level CBR personnel and continues to provide training on implementation of CBR Guidelines and Inclusion.  Her key areas of interest and experience are curriculum development for CBR training, life history and action research, and developing tools, processes and procedures to assist mainstream NGOs to become disability-inclusive.  She has also been an honorary senior lecturer in Disability Studies at the University of Cape Town.

X close


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.

Limitations: The findings of this action research study were intended to improve practices in a specific organisation.  However, the insights gained can be used elsewhere.  With the limited resources available for the project, external validation of the results was not possible. Triangulation of methods and data sources was used to address the possibility of researcher bias.

How to Cite: Rule, S., 2013. Training CBR Personnel in South Africa to contribute to the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 24(2), pp.6–21. DOI:
Published on 28 Jul 2013.


  • PDF (EN)