CHILD's research collaboration with University of Pretoria is now on it's fifth year. Recently a group of Swedish researchers went to Pretoria to among other things; collect data and test utility of observation tools. Here is their story.
In February, five members of the research group CHILD (Karina Huus, Frida Lygnegård, Madeleine Sjöman, Stefan Nilsson and Margareta Adolfsson), visited the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC) at the University of Pretoria. The purpose was to continue the research collaboration between CAAC and CHILD. Already on route from the airport, zebras close to the highroad welcomed the visitors - making them feel welcome on the African continent!
Karina Huus and Frida Lygnegård worked on the final part of a collaborative 3-year research project on children’s rights with Professor Juan Bornman and Dr Shakila Dada. This team, together with Alta Erasmus, who had completed her Master’s thesis on this topic, visited a special school for children with intellectual disabilities where data had been collected earlier. What an important eye opening contextual experience this turned out to be! They also attended an interesting meeting with Dr Ilze Grobbelaar-du Plessis at the Faculty of Law’s Department of Public Law to discuss issues related to human rights of children with disabilities. One paper about children’s rights based on self- and proxy ratings was completed, another paper based on caregivers’ perspectives on children’s rights was initiated.
The purpose of Madeleine Sjöman’s visit was to test the utility of two observation tools in preschool settings in the African context: Child Observation Protocol (COP) and Teacher Observation Protocol (TOP), developed by Prof Dale Farran at Vanderbilt University, USA. Together with Enid Moolman she conducted the trial in the preschool for children with disability, Maranatha Bana, run by Dr Elsa du Toit. They also visited Pathways Special School, run by the principal Danita Nel. The visits gave very rich experiences concerned alternative communication with children with disabilities and their possibility to participate in different activity. Madeleine Sjöman also had the opportunity to discuss with Tracy Naude, a PhD student in the Centre for AAC about the vulnerability of children with disability in the African context. The visits gave insights in the importance of engaged and skilled professionals who advocate for children with disabilities.
Together with Ensa Johnson at the CAAC, Stefan Nilsson and Margareta Adolfsson investigated professional’s experiences of persistent pain in children with cerebral palsy (CP) in school situations. It included how teachers and health professionals in schools observe and communicate pain with the children and how they manage to support the children to become active participants in the school despite their persistent pain. Five interactive focus groups were conducted in schools in Pretoria and Johannesburg, providing lots of information and understanding of the situation for children with CP in South African schools. A continuation is scheduled to conduct similar focus groups in Sweden to compare the management of pain in children with CP in two different cultural contexts.
During our visit, we got the opportunity to attend the Research Themes launch arranged by the Faculty of Humanities. The Deputy Dean Professor Hennie Stander moderated the programme including remarks by Professor Norman Duncan, the Dean of the Faculty and Professor Cheryl de la Rey, the Vice-chancellor and Principal. Afterwards, the reception gave all the opportunity to exchange ideas with the researchers in the faculty.
We thank Liza Siefe who supported us with the practical arrangements and all the staff members at the CAAC who made our visit so interesting and pleasant. We also want to thank Professor Juan Bornman, CAAC, and Professor Mats Granlund, CHILD, who initiated the collaboration between the research groups and funded the research collaboration. We are looking forward to further collaboration!
For more information about the Swedish-South African research collaboration, contact Professor Mats Granlund.