Know your minister
In view of a dire shortage of social workers, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, is encouraging high school pupils in rural areas to take up social work.
The Department of Social Development has provided nearly 5 000 scholarships to students to take up social work studies at various universities around the country.
The move comes at a time when there is a need for about 55 000 qualified social workers in South Africa according to Professor Vivienne Taylor from the University of Cape Town.
Professor Taylor noted that South Africa had a youthful population, high unemployment, chronic poverty and high levels of violence against women and children, as well as rising substance abuse and the devastating effects of HIV and Aids.
“We need innovative ways of responding to both the supply of social workers and to the increasing social disintegration that exists in the most deprived communities in South Africa,” she said.
In April, before her Budget Vote speech in Parliament, Minister Dlamini noted the shortage of social workers. At the time, she not only encouraged young people to take up social works studies, but said she would call back retired social workers to assist the younger generation.
She said the department aimed to step up the recruitment, training and employment of social workers, as well as child and youth workers to help ease the workload of social workers.
About 16 400 social workers are currently employed in both government and non-government organisations throughout South Africa to address the welfare needs of children as highlighted in the Children’s Act.
These services range from prevention and treatment of substance abuse to crime prevention and HIV and Aids support.