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Dr Cornel Hart

Monday, 4 November 2019


TRADITIONALLY activists have been the voices of the disenfranchised, marginalised and excluded.

They mobilised communities to fight against apartheid, against being left out of decision-making and local development leadership. This was until 1994, when we achieved liberation.

In 1994, the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) became the basis for democratic policies and programmes needed to address poverty and inequality.

Meanwhile, the need to ensure human dignity, freedom from want and ignorance, remains a critical goal of a non-racial democratic SA.

In 2011 the National Development Plan (NDP): Vision 2030 was introduced. If the South Africa envisioned by the NDP is to be realised, the goals gained and vision achieved, civil society must breathe practical life into the NDP through the Professional Community Development Approach.

Many a plan has been made in the past, not only in South Africa, to address poverty and social inequalities. Yet these plans didn’t achieve their overall purpose, due to the lack of an “all-inclusive partnership” approach.

It’s now clear that community development has not yet been given enough emphasis, both as an approach and as an occupation through which communities can action their development and improved quality of life.

A critical factor for improved well-being is the need for an integrative and holistic development approach.

This, together with the core practical and ethical principles applied by Community Development Practitioners (CDPs), will result in all concerned becoming clearer as to their roles and responsibilities.

Community development is an emerging discipline which is only now becoming fully recognised as an accredited profession in South Africa.

Its multi-sectoral nature evolved in a variety of policies, definitions and approaches, but lacked standardised concepts and quality-assured knowledge, skills and attributes among those who work in communities.

In 2009, the decision was taken to start a process of Community Development Professionalisation, licensed by government. Progress has included:

  • Standardisation of CDP skills and knowledge, with three professional qualifications.
  • Collaboration, buy-in and partnership development of all relevant stakeholders to the professionalisation.
  • The drafting of the Community Development Practice Policy Framework, which guides and describes the integrative and standardised implementation of community development; this also forms the basis for its regulation of standards, quality assurance, code of ethical practice and continuous professional development.

The only outstanding matters are the election of the board members and registration of this board under the SA Council for Social Service Practitioners (SACSSP). Practitioners should engage with SACSSP and help develop a database for the 2020 board elections.

Dr Cornel Hart works at the UWC division for postgraduate studies. She writes this as a panellist for Cornerstone Institute’s Reclaiming Agency 2.0 discussion on Professionalising Community Development. The discussion takes place at the institute’s auditorium on Saturday at 4.30pm. It’s free and open to the public.


Dr Cornel Hart works at the UWC division for postgraduate studies. She writes this as a panellist for Cornerstone Institute’s Reclaiming Agency 2.0 discussion on Professionalising Community Development. The discussion takes place at the institute’s auditorium on Saturday at 4.30pm. It’s free and open to the public.