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World Social Work Day – A truly international celebration with shared hope for change and for the future

 “The meeting was very enlightening, in my opinion it deserves to be televised.” Attendee #wswd2021 

This year’s World Social Work Day was celebrated on 16 March 2021 with a shared theme of Ubuntu: I am Because We Are”, Strengthening Social Solidarities & Global Connectedness.  

A hugely successful collaboration between the SPS Social Work department (led by George Palattiyil), Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in India and Johannesburg University in South Africa saw academics and students join together in a Zoom session to discuss the theme and identify opportunities for change.  

The keynote was delivered by Paul Ladd, Director of United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. He emphasized the importance of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals: Transforming our World and the associated challenges in delivery.  

The two-hour event included presentations from our very own John Devaney, PhD (Centenary Professor and Head of Social Work at SPS), Professor Adrian van Breda, Head of the Department of Social Work and Community Development, UK and Johannesburg University and Dr. Joseph M.K, Head of the Department of Social Work, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences.  

An engaging panel discussion explored “Realizing Ubuntu in everyday practice” and was followed by an enlightening student-led presentation of videos highlighting approaches, methods and subjects covered by their respective universities. The session closed with opportunities for questions and discussion from the attendees.  

The event, which had reached capacity registrations 2 days prior, was found to be “enlightening”, “informative” and “inspirational” by those attending.  


Don’t just take our word for it… 

The following is a selection of feedback from attendees of the session who couldn’t have been more effusive in their praise.  

  • Excellent event. Really well organized and run and fabulous content. For future – suggest students could organize themed panel discussions to develop critical perspectives on a particular theme(s). Students themselves could be on the panels possibly with staff, practitioners and service users. Well done and congratulations! 
  • It was really good to know social work experience from other universities  
  • It was a good programme and (I) benefited professionally. Congratulations to the organizers. 
  • It would be amazing to hear more about the way in which the students of the different universities tackle the issues of their societies and what approaches they learn 
  • It was a wonderful collaboration. Good job. 
  • Hope this will be made an annual event. 
  • Really insightful presentation and really good to see the university campuses in India and South Africa 
  • It was a very great experience, I would love it to be more open next time, to ensure that even students from other countries can be able to ask questions. 
  • This webinar should be a yearly program, during world social work day celebration 
  • I believe this was a very noble idea and I would suggest that more universities should also be brought on board. I am a student from Kenya pursuing a Masters of Social Work. This partnership should also be stretched to Kenya and other parts of the world. 
  • Thank you to all involved who collaborated to make this webinar possible. Interesting insights and food for thought. Perhaps more dialogue around how we ensure Ubuntu does not become just another fashionable idea or concept discussed but rather an everyday lived experience of social workers and those we serve. 


Congratulations to all involved – inspirational to us all.  

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