UFH Social Work Department and local NGO partnership prepare 1st-year students for the field

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The UFH Department of Social Work and Social Development has worked tirelessly over the years to build partnerships with community stakeholders, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to foster work-integrated learning programmes to prepare its students for the field of work.

Recently, 85 first-year social work students enrolled and completed a personal growth and counselling skills course with Masithethe Counselling Services based in Buffalo City Metro.

According to Kim Schmidt, Senior Lecturer at the Department, for the first part of the programme, the training was offered through fieldwork programmes where the students, under the supervision of registered social workers, had an opportunity to implement the theory they have learned in class through various methods of social work.

“Traditionally these fieldwork programmes were offered from a second-year level, however, since 2020 through the support of the University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) the programme was able to extend to first-year student support.”

“The course afforded students the opportunity to come together as a class in a learning environment that was supportive and encouraging while at the same time building capacity in the area of self-awareness and counselling skills,” explained Kim.

For the second part of the programme each student was presented with an opportunity to attend in-service training at two local social work agencies where they received training around areas of specialization.

“For many students, this was the first time they had visited a social work agency or even had the opportunity to meet and talk to a social worker about the work that social workers are doing in the field.”  

According to Kim the students thoroughly enjoyed the course, saying it was an amazing and insightful journey of personal and professional development. The interaction with professionals in the practice also left many students inspired.

The Department is also working with other NGO’s such as Breath of Life, Masimanyane Women’s Right International, Nicro, Butterfly Palliative Home, and the Rehab Centre for the blind, physically and mentally disabled.

Kim commended the students for participating with energy and eagerness in these programmes and thanked the community stakeholders and the UCDG team for making this opportunity possible for the students.