10 January 2022 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Supplied
Dr Mpumelelo Ncube
Dr Mpumelelo Ncube is a dynamic an academic with a clear vision of growth for the Department of Social work and its students.

A drive to be an advocate for social justice is what drove Dr Mpumelelo Ncube, the new head of the Department of Social Work, to pursue a degree and career in Social Work. “I needed to be an advocate for social justice and empowerment of the vulnerable individuals and communities,” said Dr Ncube, who took over from Prof Sandra Ferreira earlier this year. 

Dr Ncube’s academic and professional repertoire is exceptional and his deep-rooted passion for social work is definitely a bonus for the UFS Department of Social Work. He has a PhD in Social Work from the University of Johannesburg, a master’s degree in Social Development, and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Witwatersrand. 

Driven by the need to succeed in whatever task he sets for himself, Dr Ncube says that he strives to make the lives of those in his path better – “The positive change should, however, begin with me so that others could easily believe in my efforts.” 

Opportunity to raise a new generation

He joined academia in 2013 after working as a psychosocial services manager in the NGO sector. “My move to the UFS was in line with my career progression and the need to contribute meaningfully at a strategic level of social work education and practice,” Dr Ncube says.  

The opportunity to work in academia has in fact provided him with an excellent opportunity. “I have the opportunity to raise a new generation of social work professionals that would be passionate, ethical and professional in their practice. In that way, my impact as an educator can be felt in all corners where my students are,” Dr Ncube says. 

An academic of note 

As a senior lecturer, he also notes the tidal changes currently sweeping through academia. He says, “In the age of the fourth industrial revolution, the Social Work academic programme should be able to identify and embrace various developments that would provide the flexibility to attract postgraduate students in different places without the need for relocation. This relates to the delivery of the programme. However, apart from adapting to these changes, the Social Work programme should also foster a cultural innovation with students and enable them to embrace the technological advancements in their social work practice.”

“I have the opportunity to raise a new generation of social work professionals that would be passionate, ethical and professional in their practice.” – Dr Mpumelelo Ncube. 

Apart from being an advocate for social justice and a lecturer he also sees his position as HOD as a being a catalyst to enable others within the department to publishing more research. “Research is a key performance area for any academic, hence the mantra, ‘publish or perish’,” he says. However, he also cautions that trick of publishing research lies in “self-discipline, self-motivation and finding a research niche”.  

Social work is his passion

Social work is Dr Ncube’s passion but he also says that it is a profession, which is “seriously underutilised especially in under developing nations”. The socio-economic conditions in these countries largely drive the underutilisation. “These are nations largely plagued by poverty, unemployment, political illiteracy challenges with policy development and implementation, and moral degeneration among many challenges,” he says. In addition, it is therefore, as Dr Ncube mentions, that “the relevance of the social work profession shall be ever-present”.


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