A total of 110 papers was presented, with seven being shortlisted for the award and the first and second best papers received a prize. The judging criteria included papers that were relevant and well-articulated to meet the requirements and theme of the conference. Makhanya emerged as the first prize winner for her research on students’ experiences of (de) coloniality in higher education based on the Social Work programme at a South African university in KwaZulu-Natal.
The study also examined the influence of colonialism on social work education and practice and explored how the university is responding or failing to respond to the call for decolonisation of South African education. It focused on the extent to which the university’s educational offerings support or marginalise African students’ value systems, languages, cultures, epistemologies and philosophies.
‘There is a need for decolonial higher education that is founded on the needs of the poor and to free social work education from colonial pedagogical and epistemological teaching and learning,’ said Makhanya. ‘Universities offering social work education should focus on transformation, not only in terms of access but in terms of an African-centred curriculum.’