College of Humanities

Highlights from World Social Work Day, celebrated by staff and students at UKZN.
Highlights from World Social Work Day, celebrated by staff and students at UKZN.

The Social Work discipline within the School of Applied Human Sciences recently hosted a World Social Work Day event at the Denis Shepstone building. The event was held on 20 March 2018. The day is celebrated worldwide with the main event taking place in New York City.

This year’s theme ‘Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability’ is running for its second and final year as part of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.

The Academic Leader of the Discipline of Social Work Professor Johannes John-Langba said, ‘Social Work Day is important for both social work staff and student social workers as well as social work practitioners as it seeks to promote and maintain the profile for the profession (Social Work); and ensures the profession’s significance to the communities worldwide/globally. During this day, the social work family gets recognised for all its efforts as a profession and is encouraged to do more.’

John-Langba proudly shared that the Discipline of Social Work at UKZN was commended by the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) for translating the official World Social Work day poster into isiZulu for use on the IFSW website.

‘It’s a great feeling to know that our translated poster is visible and recognised on a global platform. It is testament to the hard work of our discipline and we will continue to celebrate the profession of social work, raise awareness and contribute towards making the world a better place,’ he said.

Fourth year student and chairperson of the Social Work Student Association Mr Mduduzi Daniso added, ‘Through this event, we as social work students and future practitioners hope to facilitate discussions around relevant and important issues that we face in the profession and in the transformation and decolonisation of the curriculum.’

Daniso is confident that social work graduates from UKZN will be able to uplift communities and be a beacon of hope and strength to those in need.

The highlight of the event was UKZN social work students and staff marching together across the Howard College campus vowing to be the best social workers that they could be and to contribute to the betterment of communities and the country.

UKZN Lecturer Dr Maud Mthembu delivered a presentation on social policy and Ms Kwanda Zama led a talk on community engagement which documented student experiences with the AP practice module. Ms Tumi Seepamore facilitated a talk presented by a third year class.

Then lastly, Mr Mlu Zondo from the Department of Forestry and Environmental Management presented the keynote address and spoke about what it takes to instil change in communities. Detailing that commitment is first needed, followed by knowing one’s strength in order to situate oneself in a growth environment.

He encouraged students to enjoy the journey and accept who they are. ‘Don’t try to be relevant when you are not, if you want to be relevant you must start now, don’t fake relevance,’ he said.

The celebration culminated in a panel discussion on “Decolonising Social Work in South Africa.”

Meanwhile, the KZN Department of Health commemorated the Social Work Day at Addington Hospital under the theme “Back to Basics”.  Mrs Nolwazi Ngcobo, UKZN Social Work Lecturer was invited as guest speaker to lead social workers on recommitting to social work ethics.

This was an opportunity of reflection on ethical issues that were and are still under serious scrutiny at the unfortunate incident of “Life Esidimeni” which challenged all professionals in public service space. The day called for renewal of work ethic that is rooted in embracing Social work values and principles in their work.