It is hard to believe that we are already at the end of the first week of the second term of 2022. Everything on campus is in full swing and all the students at the department are hard at work and actively busy with practice education as they practice the skills learnt in theory with clients from all walks of life. The cohort of graduates can certainly attest to the endless number of hours spent writing reports in order graduate as social work thought leaders, trained and equipped to make a positive difference in the world. Thank you graduates for embarking on your social work educational journey with us. We look forward watching you making a difference.
After two years of online classes, numerous emails, and Teams supervision sessions, we are back to at least some face-to-face interaction. This promises to be a very exciting year as we look forward to having everyone in class and in the passages engaging in face-to-face discussions and rekindling our professional relationships in person.
To our first-year students we hope that the enthusiasm you bring will remain with you in your journey with us. To our second-year students, we are looking forward to meeting you in person and putting a face and voice to your name. To our third-year students, we wish you all of the best as you will be entering the world of practice education at a welfare organization in person for the first time. This will be super exciting and a bit scary, but rest assured we are ready to guide you through this process. Finally, to our fourth-year students, you will be walking the passages with the blue files, which awaited you since your first year. You are most familiar to us and with the programme and set the example to the other year groups. Make this academic year count and most of all enjoy the journey.
Where has the time gone? A question that we ask every year around this time. This year however, it is a question that somehow bears more weight. It feels as if I have not moved from the corner in my house, which has been dubbed my office for the past year… Working what feels like 24 hours a day without the satisfaction of getting anything done. A feeling that I know is shared by colleagues and our students alike. But we remain hopeful that brighter days will come, but we also look back and reminisce on days full of sunshine and success that has gone by this year.
It has been a difficult year or rather two years, especially for our final year students. Our final year students missed their third year of practice education due to the Covid-19 pandemic, making the final year more challenging. As social work students, the challenges have been endless, but the perseverance persisted, which is what was needed to successfully reach this point. Now there is one week left of practice education. Well done class of 2021, you have made it!
It is now time to buckle down, remain focused as the finish line for 2021 is insight. It is often at the very end that the energy levels are low, but most needed. As we look back, we also need to look forward, but most of all focus on the present, as the energy is most needed right now.
The Department wishes all our students all the best with the final reports and exams that lie ahead, make the last stretch count!
Despite the odds and the challenges, we have successfully managed to get the practice education for the year off to start. Our second-year students were able to complete their pledge online via Teams, dedicating themselves as registered student social workers to believing in the uniqueness and ultimate worth of every human being, irrespective of status, culture, gender, religion, lifestyle and other differences; and in the capacity of all people to change, grow and develop, through own life experience and through beneficial living conditions. Furthermore, they solemnly pledged to at all times conduct themselves positively enhance not only the social work profession, but clients, colleagues and organizations; to promote social justice; to adhere to the ethical code and all requirements of the profession, as contained in the Social Service Professions Act (Act 110 of 1987, as amended); and to fully accept the consequences that may result from non-compliance with these provisions. As they and the rest of the social work class of 2021 begin practice education at various welfare organisations.
Covid-19 has forced us to look differently into how we view the practice education programme and revisit our mode of implementation. It has opened up new avenues for the programme in that first and second-year students now engage in the practice education on an online platform with Matie Community Service (MGD), thus mitigating the risks related to direct contact with the client system. This online platform offers students the opportunity to not only practice their social work skills but also to hone new technological skills alongside the ethical responsibility that it demands. Students register on the FORGOOD platform which MGD uses to assist students to engage in community interaction through engaged citizenship while encouraging volunteerism, in the palm of their hands. Thanks to MGD collectively we have 170 students engaging in practice education virtually.
Our senior students are out in the field weekly rendering services in various communities aiming to achieve various learning outcomes in volatile circumstances with the guidance of field instructors from several welfare organisations, largely rendering child and family welfare services.
Weekly supervision has also been taken into the virtual realm with students and supervisors meeting on Teams for both group and individual supervision. This has indeed silenced the passage of our department and we continue to miss the hustle and bustle of students passing through the corridors for the submission of files and the request for elastic bands and laces. Those identifiable pink, yellow, green and blue files have become a distant memory and a reminder of how things change and how we may never return to the world we once knew.
Covid-19 has come to change how we do things, it has come to open up new possibilities and it has come to push boundaries, in ways we may not have imagined. Most of all it has come to change the face of social work. Students often questioned why as a department we were always chopping down trees with the tons of paper we used to print reports and notes, now some are requesting hard copies of that which is digitally available. This is evident of how we as humans often don't realise the value of what we have until it is lost.
As we come to the end of the first term, as a department we reflect on how hard work, dedication, good planning and embracing change are beneficial in our mission to deliver well-rounded thought leaders in social development.
But while we end our first term in high spirits for achieving the academic goals set for it, we keep our colleagues and students of UCT in our thoughts and prays as they work towards recovering from the trauma and loss experienced during the recent fires which swept through Table Mountain and parts of Cape Town and UCT, causing great devastation. We have faith that UCT will emerge stronger and more resilient than before.
2021… What does it hold for us? The answer: No-one really knows. So, in all of this uncertainty what do we do? How do we plan? Should we even plan?
As social workers, planning is what we do, it is ingrained within us from the first year of training as social workers. If a social worker is not able to plan, the work cannot be done, as goals and objectives cannot be achieved without clear planning. So, how do we achieve our academic goals and objectives amidst the uncertainty? A question which is probably at the forefront of every social work students' mind.
Students look to the staff of our department to have the answers to many of these questions. Well, sometimes we too do not have the answers. What we do know is that at our department we strive towards excellence in developing thought leaders in social development. For this reason, we stay focused on our goals and objectives, within the context of where we are at. We plan in the context of what is at our disposal, what we know and what resources we have. We understand that everything is subject to change at any point, without fair warning. A lesson that COVID-19 has come to remind us of, in ways we could not begin to imagine.
Foremost of the way in which this lesson has been taught, is through loss, loss of just about everything. During this time of COVID-19, we have all experienced loss. We are all grieving, in some way or another. We have also been reminded that as people we need other people. As social workers, we are needed now more than before, so therefore, our department has an even greater responsibility to continue to contribute to the cohort of social workers who are at the frontline of service provision to the most vulnerable of our society. Rendering, services to satisfy the most basic of human needs. We are thus committed to our task and will continue to offer our best to give the best to our students to deliver much needed social services. Perhaps at this point the detail of how may not be very clear, but we will be ready, in the spirit of UBUNTU as we strive towards strengthening solidarity through connectedness.
As South Africans we should be so proud of this indigenous philosophy which our late President Nelson Mandela popularised and is now recognised the world over. So much so that it has been adopted as the theme for Social Work Day 2021, which will be celebrate on 16 March 2021. This philosophy of UBUNTU is indicative of how we as people are in need of each other and how significant social work is in the lives of the most vulnerable of our society. Let us make ourselves count in a time where very little makes sense. As the social work academics at Stellenbosch University, we will make ourselves count, by ensuring that we are ready for the 2021 academic year and all it holds.
Dr Tasneemah Cornelissen-Nordien
WE STAND AGAINST RACISM & POLICE BRUTALITY
The Department of Social Work is a member of the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI). Therefore, we subscribe to the statement on racism and police brutally released by ASASWEI today: “We commit ourselves to the eradication of racism and all forms of discrimination in our country and around the world. We commit ourselves to adopt this as a cornerstone of our teaching, research and student and community engagement practices." See the full statement ASASWEI statement on racism and police brutality 3 July 2020.pdf
This statement corresponds with and reiterates our Department's affirmation and conduct against discrimination:
“The Department is committed to ongoing and rigorous efforts to promote values that are responsive to social development, human rights, social inclusion, and the needs and aspirations of local communities, congruent with University policies prohibiting discrimination. We affirm and conduct all aspects of our teaching and learning, research and social impact without discrimination on the basis of race, colour, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family status, disability, religion, language and political affiliation. Therefore, we encourage an educational and working environment characterised by open communication, participation and a sense of community." [http://www.sun.ac.za/english/faculty/arts/social-work/welcome/declaration].
OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought our country and the world to an almost complete standstill with lockdown measures implemented the world over. These lockdown measures which took effect in our country on 28 March 2020 has had a significant impact on how we function. This has been particularly relevant in education. Our department has had to significantly re-think how we implement the social work programme, in order to continue to deliver the best possible training to our students and ensuring that teaching and learning continues.
The social work programme across the four years, is currently being offered online, for both practice education and theory. Our approach has been largely successful in that we have remained in close contact with our students virtually, in an attempt to provide the best possible academic support we can with the resources at our and our students' disposal.
These are in deed very challenging times, as we deal with unprecedented challenges, for which there has been little time to prepare. Covid-19 has come at a very pressing time in our country, highlighting the vast inequalities which exist between the haves and the have-nots. Much of the difficulties experienced by the people of our country are not new or due to Covid-19, it has been as a result of years of degradation. Covid-19 is forcing South Africans to re-think, re-look, re-evaluate every aspect of our lives and begin to rebuild our country.
We need to not only recognise the inequalities, but to actively do something about it, resources need to be dedicated and effectively channelled to the most vulnerable of our society.
As social workers, we are acutely aware of the issues which plague our country and how it affects our people. Social workers on the frontline are constantly being challenged by the lack of resources to render effective services to our clients. Skills, patience and the ability to cope and manage stressful situations is constantly apart of everyday social work service provision. It is thus important for us at the Department of Social Work to continue to focus on our goal to train and deliver well rounded thought leaders in social development.
This period of lockdown has indeed been more challenging for some, than for others. At our department we acknowledge that the circumstances of our students has an impact on their ability to submit work on time and on the quality of the work they have to submit. For this reason, we encourage continuous, consistent contact, between students and the respective lecturers, coordinators and supervisors.
Our Department is thus committed to the successful completion the academic year with the resources at our disposal, within the context of Covid-19, to continue to add to the cohort of social workers, making a difference on the frontline.
Dr Tasneemah Cornelissen-Nordien
WORLD SOCIAL WORK DAY 2020
World Social Work Day 2020 (WSWD) is on March 17th. This year the theme is 'Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships'. This is the fourth and final theme of the 2010 to 2020 Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.
Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships, as a theme was established to build international focus on the interdependence of people and the need for change in policies and social service delivery. WSWD 2020 thus creates yet another opportunity for social workers to express international solidarity and to bring common messages to governments, regional bodies and to our communities.
As Social Work educators at the Department of Social Work, of Stellenbosch University we take great pride in being social workers ourselves and being an integral part of training social work thought leaders. At our university we are able to promote the importance of human relationships with our students in the classroom as well as offering them the opportunity through practice education from the first year with real people, who have real needs, in real communities. It is therefore fitting that we engage in celebrating our profession on World Social Work Day on 17 March 2020 and the importance of human relationships.
To celebrate Sharon Follentine, a seasoned social worker and Chairperson of the 4th Professional Board of Social Work of the South African Council for Social Service Professions, will be our guest of honour. Ms Follentine, will address us and share with us her wisdom in relation to the promotion of the importance of human relationships.
With the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the spread of the Corona Virus, and following the measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 15 March 2020, the Department of Social Work at Stellenbosch University has cancelled the Social Work Day Celebrations scheduled for 17 March 2020.
Second year students of 2020 undertook their pledge
Ms Langi Malaba, the Registrar of the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) with the second year students after undertaking the pledge. In this pledge students commit to:
the belief in the uniqueness and ultimate worth of every human being, irrespective of status, culture, gender, religion, lifestyle and other differences;
the belief in the capacity of all people to change, grow and develop, through own life experience and through beneficial living conditions; and
to conduct themselves in such a way that will positively enhance the social work profession, clients, colleagues and organizations;
to continually strive for the promotion of social justice;
to always adhere to the ethical code and all requirements of the profession, as contained in the Social Service Professions Act (Act 110 of 1987, as amended); and
to fully accept the consequences that may result from non-compliance with these provisions.
SOTL Conference 2018
Dr Zibonele Zimba and Mrs Priscalia Khosa with Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel (Vice Rector for Teaching and Learning) at the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference (SOTL). They were awarded a certificate of merit for their abstract on a research-based paper entitled: Using Blended Learning in Social Work Education: An Uncomfortable Shift.
Best Practice Education Supervisor 2018
Mrs Belinda Mostert who has been with the Department for many years was awarded the certificate for the best supervisor 2018. Two students were awarded the Orton-Howard and Van Enter Krynauw scholarship respectively to complete their Master's degree in 2019.
Best Practice Educator 2018
Ms Annica Potgieter form House Horizon was awarded the certificate for best practice educator 2018. She is also an alumni from the Stellenbosch University.
Social Work Class of 2018
Department of Social Work 4th year students. They came as students and leave as thought leaders. We wish them well!
Staff of the Department with Prof Charlotte Williams OBE from the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies in RMIT University, Australia.
Women's month celebration 2018
Mrs Priscalia Khosa one of the Department staff member attended a Women's Celebratory Event hosted by the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Stellenbosch University, organized by Prof Solosh Pillay (Vice Dean: Social Impact and Transformation) under the theme “YES I CAN". Amongst the guest speakers on the left picture, was Prof Thuli Madonsela who is the Social Justice Chair in the Law Faculty at Stellenbosch University. Prof Madonsela recently completed her term as South Africa's Public Protector. Another esteemed guest speaker on the right picture, was Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi. She was the Minister of Welfare and Population Development in South Africa's first democratic government and she steer-headed the tabling of the White Paper on Social Welfare (1997) in Parliament; which is the cornerstone policy on welfare services in South Africa.
Collaboration function between Social Work Departments: SU, UWC and UCT
Department of Social Work Stellenbosch University hosted the first ever collaborative function between the three Social Work Departments in the Western Cape Province (UWC, UCT and SU). Various inter-university academic collaborations may result from this function. A total of 32 combined staff members attended. Here is the picture of the attendees.
Visiting Professor and students from Albany, USA.
Prof Robert L. Miller, Director of the US-Africa Partnerships to Build Stronger Communities at the School of Social Welfare,
Albany, New York and a group of students collaborated with the Department
Visit from Dr Abena Ampomah
On the left: Dr Abena Ampomah from the Department of Social Work, University of Ghana. She is a The PANGeA Early Career Fellow who visited our department.
Prof Melinda Kavanaugh from the Department of Social Work at the University of Winconsin visited us. She collaborated with Dr Ilze Slabbert regarding her research on child caregivers of motor neuron disease (MND) patients.
SWSD Conference 2018
Staff of the Department presented 7 papers (+2 by PhD students) at the International Social Work Education and Social Development Conference in Dublin, Ireland on the 4th-7th July 2018. Here from left: Dr Ilza Slabert; Dr Zibonele Zimba; Dr Marianne Strydom; Professor Lambert Engelbrecht and Mrs Priscalia Khosa.
Dr Abigail Ornellas, who is a postdoctoral fellow of the Department, was the lead author of an article “Mapping social work across 10 countries: Structure, intervention, identity and challenges", which was recently published in the International Social Work Journal: http://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/DtNajuDHBVSUyAwbHjWc/full. The article is based on an European Union (EU)-funded International Research Scheme (FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IRSES), and is the result of research contributions by 14 established academics from 10 countries.
Prof Lambert Engelbrecht has been recently awarded a B-rating (Internationally acclaimed researcher) by the National Research Foundation (NRF). This rating by the NRF serves as benchmarking of South African researchers against researchers in the world. NRF-ratings are allocated based on a researcher's recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers. Prof Engelbrecht is the first and only full-time Social Work academic in South Africa to achieve a B rating.
Practice Education Portfolio Preparations
Most of our students are preparing and submitting their portfolios for the first semester for the academic year 2018. Here are some of the second year Social Work students working on their portfolios.
As part of the centenary commemoration of the university, the Department of Social Work had a staff colloquium with the Centre for Student Counselling and Development (CSCD). The presentations of the colloquium focused on services and resources available for students and staff at the Centre and reflected on how academic staff members can identify, support and refer students on issues related to Equality, Psychotherapeutic and Support Services, Graduand Career Services, Disability and Academic Counselling and Development.
Visit from Professor Adrian Van Breda
Prof Adrian Van Breda recently visited our Department. He is the president of the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI) and Professor at Johannesburg University.
Departmental Staff and Practice Education Supervisors
Third year practice education supervisors and departmental staff having coffee with little Noah in the arms of his grandmother (Mrs Anne-Marie Peyper), a baby of one of the third year supervisors (Mrs Inge-Marie Veldsman).
First Year Practice Education Group Supervision
The first year students had their first group supervision session. Here is practice education supervisor Ms Nomonde Shozi with her group.
World Social Work day
The department celebrated World Social Work Day with a lecture presented by Dr Abigail Ornellas entitled 'These clothes don't fit us anymore!' – Expanding Your Idea of Social Work.
“The theme of World Social Work Day is promoting community and environment sustainability – these are big topics that social workers can at times shy away from, or limit themselves to certain areas with the belief that this is as far as their impact or reach can go," said Ornellas, who has just completed her doctoral degree in Social Work at Stellenbosch University (SU). (Read her full story click: https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5542)
Practice education in action
The first individual
supervision session of a first year student Jeaniedean Eloff by practice education supervisor Ms Emari Hoffman.
Visiting professors from Howard University, Washington DC
Some staff of the Department with visiting professors Cudore Snell and Tamarah Moss from the Department of Social Work, Howard University, Washington DC.
Prof Lambert Engelbrecht is a guest co-editor of a themed issue of the European Journal of Social Work
Prof Lambert Engelbrecht, Chair of the Department, was a guest co-editor of a themed issue of the European Journal of Social Work together with Prof Trish Hafford-Letchfield of the Department of Mental Health and Social Work, Middlesex University, London. Prof Hafford-Letchfield is also a research fellow of the Department of Social Work, Stellenbosch University. The themed issue was on Contemporary practices in social work supervision: Time for new paradigms? (European Journal of Social Work, 2018, 21:329-332).
See the journal on: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cesw20/current
Dr Marianne Strydom is a guest
co-editor of a special issue of Child Abuse Review
Dr Marianne Strydom, senior lecturer at the Department, was a guest co-editor of a special issue of Child Abuse Review together with Dr Louise Brown of the Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, UK, and Dr Jie Lei, School of Sociology and Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University, China. The special issue was on Comparing International Approaches to Safeguarding Children (Child Abuse Review, 2017, 26: 247-251).
See the journal on: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/car.2486
Social Work First Year Students' Declaration
Social Work first year students' declaration to recognise the uniqueness of each client; maintain a professional relationship with clients; acknowledge the right of self-determination of clients and respect clients' right to confidentiality.
Departmental Centenary Commemoration of the University
Some staff of the Department celebrating the centenary commemoration of the University.
SU Open Day
Stellenbosch University open day. Proud future
social workers of the Department of Social Work!
Social Work Colloquium
delivered by Professor Eileen Munro
Professor Eileen Munro participated at a colloquium of the Department
of Social Work, which was part of the Department’s centenary commemoration of
the University. She delivered a talk on child protection in the United Kingdom,
a talk in which she shared her thoughts on the role of social work in child
protection and how social workers can develop their skills in the field. During
her talk Professor Munro discussed child abuse and neglect, how child
protection services fit into wider cultural relationships between children,
parents, community and the State, and on how to develop expertise in social
work. For a full article on the colloquium click the link:
Social Work Students' Welcoming Evening
The department welcomed all social work students in the academic year
of 2018. The departmental chair (Professor Lambert Engelbrecht) encouraged
every student to play their part in commemorating the centenary of the University.
South African social work students shared dance moves with exchange students
from Taiwan and Germany.
Social Work First Year Class
Social Work first year students started their first social work class with Professor Lambert Engelbrecht (middle centre). The first years of 2018 start their four years of study in the centenary commemoration year of Stellenbosch University. Best wishes to the future thought leaders!
Postgraduate intake of 2018
Masters' and Doctoral students' intake for 2018 successfully finished their postgraduate research workshop and started their research journey in different parts of the country and across the continent. The workshop was held in the Erika Theron Reading Room. Interesting - see the photo of Prof Erika Theron looking over the students (in the right corner). She was the first Chair of the Department of Social Work, Stellenbosch University in 1957. The legacy of cultivating thought leaders continue!
Prof Lambert Engelbrecht has been awarded the Stals Prize
Prof Lambert Engelbrecht, Chair of the Department of Social Work, has been awarded the Stals prize by the South African Academy of Science and Arts. This prize has been awarded annually since 1947 in recognition of significant scientific publications. Prof Engelbrecht is only the third scholar within the social work discipline to receive the Prize. Prof Sulina Green was a previous recipient of the award.
Visiting Professor from St Petersburg State University, Russia
Prof Irina Pervova from the Department of Theory and Practice of Social Work, St Petersburg State University in Russia spent four weeks at the Department, working on a joint research project on “Neoliberal influences on social policy dynamics and development of national welfare state systems in developing countries (Russian Federation, RSA and India)." Prof Lambert Engelbrecht and Dr Marianne Strydom of the Department of Social Work, Stellenbosch University, have both been appointed as research fellows of St Petersburg State University for the duration of the project.
Dr Dianne Orton and Mr Gordon Howard donated a postgraduate scholarship to a deserving Masters student. Dr Orton is a retired clinical assistant Professor of the School of Social Work, University of Missouri. She is also an alumnus of the Department of Social Work, Stellenbosch University and graduated with a PhD topic on “The use of visual imagery and reflective writing as a measure of social work students' capstone experience." The first recipient of this scholarship is Ms Netsayi Mwoyounazvo.
PhD conferred upon Dr Zibonele Zimba
A PhD degree was conferred on 12 May 2017 upon Dr Zibonele Zimba at Fort Hare University. The title of his thesis is: “The impact of Family Preservation services on Families in South Africa: A case study of Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province." Dr Zimba has been lecturing at the Department since 2016.
Graduation on March 2017
At the March graduation ceremony of the University, seven Master's students graduated. Five students passed their degrees Cum Laude. A PhD degree was also conferred upon Dr Lorien Parker. The title of her thesis is: “Essential professional competencies of social work supervisors in a non-profit welfare organisation". Prof Lambert Engelbrecht was the promotor.
Postgraduate intake of 2017
A postgraduate research workshop was attended by 33 Master's and Doctoral students in January. Students hail from all over South Africa and Africa. Applications for the 2018 intake start in April 2017 and close at the end of August.