Through information gathering with occupational therapists internationally and discussions with the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), we have become aware of the challenges for development of the profession in some countries. Challenges are specifically with regard to the awards made (Diploma rather than BSc) and the impact of this on developing a workforce able to educate future occupational therapists in country. To this end, we are excited to launch our first International Development Award.
For the first year of this initiative, we will help support the professional development of a cohort of occupational therapists through the ‘topping-up’ of their Diploma in Occupational Therapy to a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. Attaining a BSc is an important step for individuals to be eligible to progress to higher degrees.
Several countries still operate at Diploma level and for this first year of the Award we have chosen to focus on countries in the East African Community. This community has been selected as enquiries and applications to the Trust from these countries originally helped to bring this issue to the attention of the Trust.
Our ambition is that by providing this funding to support the academic progression of occupational therapists, it will be possible to develop an appropriately skilled and qualified workforce for institutions to educate and graduate occupational therapists at BSc level within their own country, giving the profession the capacity and leadership to grow and become self-sustaining into the future.
Our First Awards 2021
The application round opened in May 2021 and at the July 2021 meeting of trustees, the Board approved the award of our first International Development Awards. Six individuals from the East African Community region have been selected through interview to receive funding to support their BSc studies. Completion of their studies will enable them to go on to study at masters level and be able to teach in BSc Occupational Therapy programmes in their home countries. Congratulations to these individuals: Andrew Mubangizi and Hassan Kato of Uganda, and Simon Mallya, Thomas Myagila, George Shirima and Irene Chuwa of Tanzania. We would also like to thank their employers who have agreed to provide study leave.
We would like to thank DrMatumo Ramafikeng, President of the Occupational Therapy Africa Regional Group, for her help in developing and promoting this initiative.
It is the Elizabeth Casson Trust’s current intention to offer the International Development Awards each year to honour our founder’s pioneering spirit.