Vision, Mission and Commitment

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Global Definition of Social Work (2014)

The UJ Department of Social Work endorses the Global Definition of Social Work, which was approved by the IFSW General Meeting and the IASSW General Assembly in July 2014, viz.

​Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledges, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing.



UJ Department of Social Work Vision Statement

A centre of excellence in social work education, committed to social justice and human development in an African context.


Developmental Social Work

The UJ Department of Social Work is committed to a developmental approach to social work practice, which we define as follows:

1.Developmental social work is​ an approach to social work that is informed by the principles of social development, particularly as conceptualised in South Africa.

  1. It gives priority attention to promoting social justice, social equality, human rights, empowerment and the eradication of poverty.
  2. Using generalist social work theories and practice methods, developmental social work emphasises:
    1. the active and democratic participation of clients (as citizens) in the delivery of social welfare services;
    2. partnerships between a range of change agents;
    3. integrating social and economic development in service delivery;
    4. fostering local assets and resiliencies towards sustainable social change; and
    5. facilitating change in social structures that perpetuate social exclusion and injustice.

Approach to Social Work Education

The UJ Department of Social Work’s approach to social work education is expressed as seven statements of action, viz. that it:

1.Aligns itself with the core purposes of social work in the Global Definition of Social Work, which emphasises:

  1. Social change at both personal and structural levels;
  2. Empowerment and liberation;
  3. Human rights and social justice;
  4. Collective well-being and development; and
  5. Indigenous knowledge.
  6. Aligns itself with the developmental social welfare approach as conceptualised in South Africa, with emphasis on:
    1. Mastery of developmental theory;
    2. Prioritisation of services to the poor and marginalised;
    3. Attention to meeting social needs and alleviating poverty, discrimination and oppression; and
    4. Use of a holistic, integrated and generalist social work perspective.
  7. Provides education that is appropriate to local and national needs in a changing global context, drawing on local and regional literature.
  8. Provides students with a rounded professional education drawing on a broad knowledge base in social work and the social sciences.
  9. Gives students opportunities to develop skills to:
    1. work with different client systems (individuals, families, groups, organisations and communities);
    2. integrate methods of intervention;
    3. integrate of theory and practice; and
    4. practise professionally and ethically.
  10. Fosters cohorts of social work students who are team players, networkers, innovators, critical thinkers, problem solvers, diversity sensitive practitioners, ethically impeccable, unafraid to challenge the status quo and engaged in relevant practice.

7.Views social work clients as active participants in their own growth, with personal and collective strengths and resources.

Curriculum Statements for Each Year Group of the BSW

To give expression to the above statements, each year group of the BSW has a particular and cumulative focus:

1.First Year Curriculum Statement. The first year curriculum lays the foundation of essential knowledge required for social work practice, by introducing students to macro social issues, the welfare context and response to these issues, the philosophy of social work and generalist social work practice. In addition, the first year programme contributes to two aspects of formation: (1) the development of academic competencies required for higher education, and (2) the formation of the professional self.

  1. Second Year Curriculum Statement. The second year curriculum lays a foundation of knowledge, skills and values of professional practice, according to a planned change process at the three levels of generalist practice, with diverse population groups, with emphasis on basic micro (individual) and meso (group).
  2. Third Year Curriculum Statement. The third year curriculum develops professional social work practitioners in specialised fields of social work practice, by facilitating critical analysis and self-reflection, with emphasis on macro and advanced micro work.

4.Fourth Year Curriculum Statement. The fourth year curriculum consolidates, integrates and advances professional competencies, and develops the competencies for research, policy, management and supervision, in preparation for professional practice.​