Digital Alumni Newsletter | Issue 5 | Summer 2019

In 2018, she won first place for Early Childhood Development (ECD) Trainer of the Year from the National Development Agency in Polokwane and was chosen as first runner-up in the category Civil Society and Social Cohesion at the 2018 South African Youth Awards hosted by the National Youth Development Agency.

“I was honoured by the awards and humbled to be recognised for the investment in and contribution towards a field I feel so passionate about. Social work is not always given a platform of this nature, and I welcomed the opportunity to represent my profession. As a young professional, I hope this is the beginning of years of valuable work in the ECD and social work field,” she says.

Ronaasen has for the past four years worked at Early Inspiration, an ECD teaching and training centre in the Nelson Mandela Bay area where she designed, managed and facilitated parent education programmes to support family interventions and the ECD Training Programme for Practitioners. She currently lives in KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2018, she was also part of a collaborative team of professionals who worked with UNICEF to pilot a parent support programme called Sakha Esetu that aimed to encourage ECD practitioners to run their own parent support groups. 

“I am passionate about people. As a social worker, I believe we stand for principles and values that promote worth and dignity. I strongly believe in the impact of early education and the role that ECD has in improving the lives of future generations. I am passionate about leadership and creating teams through collaboration and participation. I see young people making an impact when they reach out and get involved in projects and programmes.”

She completed her master’s degree in social work at Stellenbosch University in 2014 and is currently doing her PhD in social work. Ronaasen says she is proud to be a Matie. “Being a part of the Maties magic was a life-changing opportunity for me. It was here that I met individuals and young leaders from all over the world who challenged my ideas about my profession, business and how one makes an impact as a young graduate.

“Maties offers its students an array of services and support structures that are, in my opinion, world class! The supervision support, library services, postgraduate skills and training and Writing Lab support are just a few examples of resources I felt were highly influential in my writing and academic growth and also challenged my thinking towards a multidisciplinary view of research, which has stood me in good stead in the working world. My master’s led me to my first full-time post, working in parent education and community development.”

Her PhD studies focus on exploring the essential management attributes of principals and social workers in the ECD sector. She says, “I hope to make a meaningful contribution to the field of social work and the ECD sector in South Africa. I have hopes of being part of many community-based projects and programmes.

“I hope to utilise my PhD as an opportunity to further promote the ECD agenda and the importance of management in the non-profit sector. I hope to continue linking research to practice with excellence and impact – hopefully alongside many inspiring academics and practitioners from different fields.”