Chapter 1: Contextualising Psychological Assessment in South Africa

AUTHOR/S: S. Laher & K. Cockcroft

ABSTRACT: According to Claassen (1997), psychological testing came to South Africa through Britain and that the development of psychological tests in South Africa followed a similar pattern to that of the tests in the United States. The difference is that tests in South Africa were developed in a context with unequal distribution of resources due to apartheid. According to Nzimande (1995), assessment practices in South Africa were used to justify the exploitation of black labour and to deny black people access to education as well as economic resources. Sehlapelo and Terre Blanche (1996) argue further that tests are used on a large scale in South Africa to determine who gains access to economic and educational opportunities, which is why the reformation of tests is important. The Employment Equity Act (Act 55 of 1998) requires that all testing procedures are scientifically reliable, valid and free from bias. This chapter briefly contextualises psychological assessment within the history of South Africa and alerts the reader to some of the main debates in the area. The chapter then proceeds to highlight the input provided by each of the chapters in the book. Thus it serves as an introduction to the book whilst at the same time highlighting the salient aspects in psychological assessment in South Africa.

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