Social Work academics Drs Thembelihle Makhanya and Siphiwe Motloung co-presented a paper at the International Conference on Health Promotion: Global Perspectives and Practices, held at the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in Kerala, India. The conference was organised by the Department of Social Work in the College.
Makhanya and Motloung’s paper was titled ‘The discourse of decoloniality and social development’, under the theme of human and social development.
Their presentation focused on the role of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 in guiding development. ‘With SDGs, interventions need to be mindful of a history of colonialism and its aftermaths. Instead the focus should be on community-based participatory and decolonising methodologies for sustainability in the African context and specifically in the South African context,’ said Makhanya.
She added that ‘social Work is important in facilitating sustainable development from the grassroots level because of the silencing of the voice of the African majority as a result of the colonialist and imperialist past.’
The presentation advocated for decoloniality as a critical aspect of the SDGs due to the impact of underdevelopment brought about by past oppression. Such oppression negatively affects mental and psychological wellbeing in the area of development and the domains of the psyche, mind, language, aesthetics, religion and others in the present.
Said Motloung, ‘The implications of the impact these would have on the health and wellbeing of Africans and the execution of the SDGs goes without saying. As a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, Social Work has a central role to play in debate on the SDGs.
The academics argued that, facilitated by social work, the SDGs 2030 can benefit from a decolonial approach that adopts a community-based participation perspective of development. They received certificates of participation from Dr Sr Sunirose I P who chaired the presentations at the College.