Purpose of Community Engagement

The purpose of the Department’s Community Engagement is to facilitate the reciprocal exchange of knowledge, skills and resources with the Communities where we have the privilege to serve. Through this process of engagement we contribute to our scholarship and grow academics and social work graduates that are contextually relevant and transformative in their practice and thinking.


Strategic focus

In line with our Department’s vision, we are in the process of adopting and implementing an Asset based Community development paradigm to guide our community engagement work


  1. Student practicals

As from second level, social work students register with the South African Council for Social Service Professions before commencing with practical work.

At second year our students undertake minimum of 160 hours practical work under the supervision of academics from the Department. Our practicum partners for the placements are primary and secondary schools where our students facilitate educational lifeskills groups once a week for a period of 6 weeks.

In the second semester our 2nd years do their community development practical in three dedicated geographical communities. The three geographical communities which the Department has partnered with at present are: Salt Lake, Joe Slovo and New Brighton. The purpose of the practicums is to undertake a process of Appreciative Inquiry in the communities.

Third year students are expected to do a minimum of 240 hours of practical work under the supervision of the academics and social work practice partners. The students do their casework at the Department of Social Development; their group work at NICRO with youth who have been diverted from the Criminal Justice System and their Community development in the same communities where they were placed in 2nd year. This not only ensures sustainability but also promote active citizenship from the community partners.

In fourth year our students have to complete 600 hours of practical work and we rely on multiple practice partners to achieve the practice outcomes and nurture a mutually beneficial relationship. The practice partners include schools; NPOs/NGOs; Government department of Health, Social Development, Industry, CBOs and institutional academic and service departments.


  1. Internal and external partnerships

In keeping with our mission, we nurture interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships. A few of our internal partners include the Centre for Community Schools (CCS); Dept of Arts and Culture; the Psychology Clinics at South and Missionvale Campus; The Disability Unit; Unit for Student Counselling and several others.

External partners include: Public service Depts of Health and Social Development;


  1. Community engagement projects

The Department of Social Development is involved in several community engagement projects. These range from once off educational awareness programmes delivered on request; leadership development camps offered by our social work graduates; and skills development workshops facilitated for social service professionals. Below are pictures of recent community engagement projects that some of the academic staff and social work students and graduates were involved in.

A long term community engagement project of the Department is the School at Home Project.


  1. Continuous Professional Development training for social service professionals

The limited funding available in Higher Education also demand a strategy for the Department to become self-sustainable. This gave rise to the development and facilitation of Continuous Professional Development Programmes which include:  

  1. Supervision and Mentoring
  2. The Helping Process
  3. Professional Report Writing  
  4. Group work and group facilitation skills


External training that will be on offer in the near future include:

  • Solution Focused approach to Treatment of Substance Use Disorders
  • Creative Approaches to positive youth development