Humanities Academics Receive Social Work Awards

Social Work lecturers Dr Thembelihle Makhanya (left) and Dr Maud Mthembu.
Social Work lecturers Dr Thembelihle Makhanya (left) and Dr Maud Mthembu.

Social Work lecturers Dr Thembelihle Makhanya and Dr Maud Mthembu have received awards from the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI).

Makhanya won the runner-up award for the best emerging social work educator and Mthembu the award for the best researcher in 2021. The prize-giving ceremony was held at the Premier Hotel in Richards Bay as part of the ASASWEI 2021 conference.

A call was made by ASASWEI for Disciplines of Social Work in South Africa to nominate academics for awards in six categories. Relevant published articles, conference presentations and community involvement were considered in selecting the award-winners.

‘To be chosen by ASASWEI as the runner-up for its Emerging Social Work Educator of the Year for 2021 award, suggests a positive direction to my career development. This is encouraging not only for me but for our students and emerging academics,’ said Makhanya.

‘The award means that my peers recognise the contribution of my research in developing innovative approaches to improve the lives of children, specifically in child protection and child counselling. These awards serve as one of the platforms that recognise the excellent work social workers do to improve the lives of the people through research, social work practice and social work education,’ said Mthembu.

‘We must use our positions as social work students, practitioners, researchers and educators to bring a change in communities we serve and to advocate for the vulnerable.’

Makhanya’s research interests include teaching and learning in higher education; (de) coloniality and (de) colonialism; Social Work education; and fatherhood. She has produced a number of publications in local and international journals, and has also presented papers at international, national and regional conferences.

Makhanya, who offers her professional services to the Department of Correctional Services as a Victim-Offender Mediation Dialogue co-ordinator and facilitator, is a founder and a chairperson of an NGO Imbewu Youth Empowerment Centre, which addresses psychosocial issues faced by young people in the Ugu District.

She has received numerous accolades including the Working with the Disadvantaged Groups NIHSS Research Funding Award; being listed among 13 top young academics at UKZN in 2021, and an award for the best paper at the NIHSS 2019 conference.

Mthembu, a principal investigator for various international and local collaborative projects, published a children’s IsiZulu book this year on COVID-19 titled: Uhambo Lwami Ngesikhathi seKhovithi which aims to educate children about the pandemic and to help them share their experiences of the virus.  Due to its popularity, the book has been translated into six languages including Sesotho, IsiXhosa and English.

Mthembu has received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to create a short-animated movie partially based on the book. Her area of interest includes child protection, children’s rights and developing child-friendly counselling tools.

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