AU Social work students participate in World Social Work Day: Respecting Diversity through Joint social Action

Story by Mitchell Mare 

Second year Social Work

On Friday, the 24th of March 2023, fourteen AU students travelled to Harare for the World Social Workers Day Celebrations hosted by the Midlands State University School of Social Work . I was one of them and had a great time and enjoying the various  speeches and presentations from some of the prominent figures in Social Work based in Zimbabwe. Other Universities represented apart from Africa University were the Women University in Africa (WUA), University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU) and Midlands State University (MSU).

Dr. Mtetwa (representative from the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare) gave a presentation on the history and development of social work in Zimbabwe and he said that the way he was taught social work should not be the same way he teaches social work as there is need for continuous improvement in the development of social work whilst embracing education 5.0. Dr Mtetwa also shared his perception on how Social Work came to Zimbabwe with a pacifying agenda which resulted in years of investment in the Care and Support pillar of social work. He lamented that it is high time social workers took the leading role and start to embrace other pillars of social work such as Labour intervention, Sustainable Livelihoods, Social insurance and Social assistance. He said, “As social workers, let us not be toothless bulldogs and let us not major on the care and support pillars but be the Voice that address contemporary issues.”

The National Association of Social Workers Zimbabwe (NASWZ) also shared a presentation outlining their basic functions as an association concerned with the welfare of social work practitioners and students. The Council of Social Work (CSW) encouraged graduates to register with them so that they are eligible for employment in the corporate world and the Council shared their constitutional battles and how they aim to review some of the constitutional shackles that limit their capacity to effectively represent social workers and their unique needs. 

Furthermore, the Deaf Trust Zimbabwe highlighted how social workers must have love and compassion for people living with disabilities as impairment can happen to anyone at any given time. Social workers have an important role in combating societal stereotypes and prejudice against people living with disabilities. 

A student representing social workers also presented challenges faced by social work students in Zimbabwe such as exploitation at work places, none visibility of NASWZ in some institutions, the review of the social work curriculum to embrace indigenization to formulate a curriculum that speaks to our African narrative and African problems in order to fulfil social work’s mission in Africa. Hence, it was indeed a fruitful discussion for social workers as we are being prepared for the corporate world.