Lecturers dedicated to the training of South Africa's next generation of social workers

Annette Willemse -- Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:18

Lecturers dedicated to the training of South Africa's next generation of social workers

All teachers should be celebrated, especially those who teach and inspire their students to be the best they can be through their devotion and dedication to excellence.

One such a group of lecturers on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) is dedicated to the training of the next generation of South Africa's social workers.  The Social Work Department on the Campus - within the Faculty of Humanities, have the challenge of preparing their students over the course of four years to successfully negotiate the often heartbreaking social realities in our country while performing their duties. Social workers must acts as agents of change on behalf of their cliencts who need and rely on them.


The social work staff during a recent visit from Optentia Extraordinary professor, Prof Robbie Gilligan. Front: Dr Ansie Fouché, Prof Robbie Gilligan, Dr Johan Steytler. Back: Ms Thulo Msimanga, Ms Samantha Rogers, Dr Elmien Truter and Ms Yolinda Steyn.

Preparing students for social work practice is not limited to teaching academic texts about theories and legal procedures; it is about teaching students to be sensitive to people's emotional and physical needs and identify those in need of help. A very important 'skill' that serves as a companion is mental and emotional fortitude or simply put resilience to successfully cope with the daily challenges of social work.

Though social work is fraught with challenges, social work lecturers ensure that their students not only see and focus their mental energies on the challenging or negative realities they'll face in practice. From early on students are taught to celebrate the small victories and surroundthemselves with positive things and positive people.

A great example of this is their celebration of the second-year students' recent solemn declaration before starting on practical work. It was not just a simple formal event; it was celebrated with family members and each student was “cast” as the social worker star in several well-knownHollywood films.

Another example is this year's intercampus project day for fourth-year students across all NWU campuses. Again, lecturers from the subject group social work don't subscribe to bland and boring, they had a theme: Bond, James Bond. They took the way James Bond orders his martini and gave it a new spin: “stirred, not shaken”. All the lecturers and students attending the day also dressed in a way befitting a James Bond movie, giving the day a unique sense of celebration.

This ongoing spirit of teaching their students to engage social work practice with responsibility and reverence, coupled with their attitude of seeking fortitude in the positive and celebrating all victories, make the members of this subject group worthy of appraisal.