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Lombard delivers a call to action

- By Wits University

At the graduation ceremony of the Faculty of Humanities on 3 April 2014, Professor Antoinette Lombard told graduands that the Diagnostic Report of the National Planning Commission (NPC) had identified nine priority challenges, of which two had been elevated as critical and interrelated:

  1. Too few people work
  2. The quality of education available to the majority is poor

“The social and economic fre edom that the National Development Plan (NDP) envisages for South Africa can reach its fullest potential only in the presence of equality. Therefore it is not promising for socioeconomic freedom that the aim of the NDP is to reduce inequality by 2030 by decreasing the Gini coefficient from 0.69 to only 0.6. It emphasises the ongoing struggle against neoliberalism and the search for an inclusive economy for all,” said Lombard.

“Despite the progress that we have made over the past 20 years the reality is that many South Africans remain captive in poverty and inequality.”

Lombard said that equality was a basic human right and that we needed to be prepared for the consequences of continuous inequality which were already evident in the form of protests against lack of basic service delivery and the competition for clean water.

“It is evident in the world and on the continent in particular how extreme inequality provokes outrage because it violates the widely held notion that all people, wherever they are, enjoy certain basic human rights,” she said.

Lombard said these issues posed challenges to graduates to become active role players in development for a sustainable future. She quoted the Chairperson of the NPC Trevor Manuel who said in the foreword to the NDP: “The future is ours, we must make it work.”

However, according to Lombard, you cannot shape the future if you do not start today. She said: “If I can just add to the statement as follows: ‘The future is ours, we must make it work by starting today’.”

About Professor Antoinette Lombard

Professor Antoinette Lombard’s has spent most of her career in academia, primarily on macro social work practice and teaching, including national and international experiences in social work professional and educational matters.

She represents the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions on the Board of the International Association for Schools of Social Work. She is the coordinator of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development in Africa and represents Africa on the board of the International Consortium for Social Development.

Lombard is currently the Programme Director of the Fordham University and University of Pretoria’s exchange programme. She served for a period of 15 years in professional bodies, including the Interim Council for Social Work; the South African Council for Social Service Professions  and the Professional Board for Social Work. She chaired the Standard Generating Body for Social Work resulting in the first registered minimum standards for the programme in South Africa in 2003.

She also chaired and led the Continuing Professional Development research and policy development process in South Africa culminating in the first policy of the Council.

Widely published on social and economic development; developmental social work and social work education, Lombard serves on the editorial boards of several local and international journals and is a rated researcher.