Social Work and Indigenisation: A South African Perspective


  • Lobelo David Mogorosi University of Venda Department of Social Work
  • Dumisani Gaylord Thabede University of Venda Department of Social Work



Africanisation, cultural context, decolonisation, indigenisation, social casework, social work, world view


For relevance to societal reality and challenges, countries should structure their social work education to deal with specific conditions and cultures. From its global North (i.e. Western Europe and North America) origins, social work has contributed to the expansion of the discipline and profession to the developing world, including South Africa. During the three decades (from the mid-1980s until the present day) during which they have taught social work in South Africa, the authors have witnessed half-hearted efforts to really integrate indigenous knowledge into the curricula. In writings and professional gatherings, scant attention was paid to curricula transformation imperatives enriching practice. To its credit, the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI) advocates for decolonisation and indigenisation of social work education. Discussing decolonisation and indigenisation in social work curricula, the paper critiques assumptions of global North ideas, cloaked as if universally applicable. An example is about some principles of social casework – a method of choice in South Africa – which mostly disregards cultural nuances of clientele with a communal collective world view that relies on joint decision-making. A culturally sensitive approach is adopted as theoretical framework for this paper. The paper concludes with recommendations that should help ensure that social work curricula strive towards being indigenous, contextualised and culturally appropriate.


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How to Cite

Mogorosi, Lobelo David, and Dumisani Gaylord Thabede. 2018. “Social Work and Indigenisation: A South African Perspective”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 30 (1):18 pages.
Received 2017-03-31
Accepted 2017-09-27
Published 2018-06-19