The International Federation of Social Workers states, “Social work bases its methodology on a systematic body of evidence based knowledge derived from research and practice evaluation, including local and indigenous knowledge specific to its context. It recognizes the complexity of interactions between human beings and their environment, and the capacity of people both to be affected by and to alter the multiple influences upon them including bio-psychosocial factors. Social work profession draws on theories of human development, social theory and social systems to analyze complex situations and to facilitate individual, organizational, social and cultural changes.”
The present study was undertaken by the researcher to explore the learning opportunities and challenges faced by the social work learners of Nepal, within educational institutions as well as during field work. In order to understand the topic in detail, the researcher has dealt with the following sections in this chapter:
- Social Work as a profession
- Significance of training in enhancing professional development
- Social Work profession in Nepal
- Opportunities for Social Work trainees in field work and class room
- Challenges faced by Social Work trainees in field work and class room
1.1 SOCIAL WORK AS A PROFESSION
Social Workers support individuals, groups, or communities to enhance or improve their capacity for social functioning and create favorable societal conditions for them. For this, social workers require the knowledge of human behavior and development, and interaction process among/between social, economic and cultural institutions. Social Work is a helping profession which helps individual/group/community through the six instrumentalities used by social workers to help the clients. Those are:
- Social Case work: According to Sanford “Social case work is a method employed by social workers to help individuals find a solution to problems of social adjustment which they are not able to handle in a satisfactory way by their own effort.” (cited from Social Work an integrated approach Bhattacharya, 2012)
- Social Group work: According to Trecker “Social group work is a method through which individuals in groups in social agency settings are helped by worker who guides their interaction in program activities so that they may relate themselves to others and experience growth opportunities in accordance with their needs and capacities.” (cited from Social Work an integrated approach Bhattacharya, 2012)
- Community organization: According to Murray G. Ross “Community organization is a process by which community identifies its needs or objectives, orders (or ranks) these needs or objectives, develop the confidence and the will to work at those needs or objectives, finds the resources (internal and external) to deal with these needs/objectives or takes action in respect to them and, in so doing, extend and develop cooperatives and collaborative attitudes and practices in the community.”
- Social Welfare Administration: Administration is the process of transforming community resources into a program of community service, in accordance with goals, policies and standards which have been agreed by those involved in enterprise. It is creative in that it structures roles and relationships in such a way as to alter and enhance the total product. It involves the problem-solving process of study, diagnosis and treatment solutions or action and evaluation of results.” – American Council of Social work Education (cited from Social Work an integrated approach Bhattacharya, 2012,)
- Social work research: According to G.W. Cater, “Social work research is the systematic, critical investigation of questions in the social welfare field with the purpose of yielding answers to problems of social work and of extending and generalizing social work knowledge and concepts. (cited from Social Work an integrated approach Bhattacharya, 2012)
- Social action: According to Sanford Solender, “Social Action in the field of social work is a process of individuals, groups or entire group endeavor, within the context of social work philosophy, knowledge and skills. Its objective is to enhance the welfare of society through modifying social policy and functioning of structure, working to obtain new progress and services. (cited from Social Work an integrated approach Bhattacharya, 2012)
These are the methods used by the social workers to enhance the clients’ capacity to work with problems, discover solution and enhance social adjustment. The main goal of social work is individuals’ happiness. The concept of social work started in the form of charity and now it is grown and internationally recognized as a profession. Even in Nepal, the kings and elite groups served food, clothes, shelter for the travelers and needy.
Social work is a Profession which helps people to overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges such as poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability and mental illness. They help to prevent crises and counsel individuals, families, groups and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses and the problems of everyday life.
Social work not only focuses on theory, but it also gives importance to Practical aspects and life skills development. It not only gives the ideas to solve other’s problems but also one’s own problems. Social Work enables the trainee social worker to understand self, to develop capacity and use of self while dealing with clients.
1.2 SIGNIFICANCE OF TRAINING IN ENHANCING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
“Learning to think and thinking to Learn”. Social work makes people to think about social issues and their own surroundings and through their own environment, it forces them to involve in Social Work activities.
The researcher has based his study on Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives. According to this theory, the Classification of Educational Goals is:
Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
Knowledge is defined as remembering of previously learned materials. This may involve the recall of wide range of materials, from facts to complete theories, but all that is required is bringing to mind the appropriate information. Knowledge represents the lowest level of learning outcomes in the cognitive domain. The main objectives of knowledge are: know common terms, specific facts, methods, procedures, basic concepts, principles
Verbs for expressing learning outcomes will be: Define, describe, identify, label, list, match, name, recall and reproduce select, state.
One can see that the Parrot reading and exam based education are still in Nepal. Educational institutes always focus on pass percentage of students rather than to develop their skills. Most of the students do not have proper resources to gain knowledge. Notes get rotated from one batch to another and one institute to another.
Comprehension is defined as the ability to grasp the meaning of the material. This may be shown by translating materials from one form to another (words to numbers), by interpreting materials (explaining or summarizing), and by estimating future trends (predicting consequences or effects). These learning outcomes go one step beyond the simple remembering of material which represents the lowest level of understanding.
Objectives: Understand facts and principles, Interpret verbal material, charts, graphs, translate verbal, material to mathematical formulas, estimate future consequences implied by data, justify methods and procedures.
Verbs for expressing learning outcomes will be: convert, defend, distinguish, estimate, explain, infer, paraphrase, predict, rewrite, summarize.
Education is undergoing a changing trend from time to time. It is encouraging that though some institutions are only focusing on knowledge based education a few have gone one step ahead. Social work professionals have started writing articles and focusing on comprehension of concepts.
Application refers to the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations. This may include the application of such things as rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws, and theories. Learning outcomes in this area require a higher level of understanding than those under comprehension.
Objectives: Apply concepts and principles to new situations; apply laws and theories to practical situations, solve mathematical problems, construct charts and graphs.
Verbs for expressing learning outcomes will be: Change, compute, demonstrate, discover, manipulate, prepare, produce, relate, show, use.
Social work is a profession as well as a unique discipline. It provides opportunity to apply theory into practice during field work. Social work provides a way where trainees can implement the knowledge gained in classes, at field work.
Analysis refers to the ability to break down material into its component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. This may include the identification of the parts, analysis of relationships between parts, and recognition of principles involved. Learning outcomes here represent a higher intellectual level than comprehension and application because they require an understanding of both the content and the structural form of the material.
Objectives: Recognize unstated assumptions and logical fallacies in reasoning, distinguish between facts and inferences, evaluate the relevance of data and analyze the organizational structure.
Verbs for expressing learning outcomes will be: Break down, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, outline, point out, relate, select, separate, and subdivide.
Social work not only enables social work trainees to see and observe the problem, but also motivates them to analyze the problem, findout the root causes, effects and possible solutions and motivate community to solve their problems themselves. Social workers in Nepal are trained to analyze social issues.
Synthesis refers to the ability to put parts together to form a new whole. This may involve the production of a unique communication (theme or speech), a plan of operations (research proposal), or a set of abstract relations (scheme for classifying information). Learning outcomes in this area stress creative behaviors, with major emphasis on the formulation of new patterns or structures.
Objectives: Write a well-organized theme or give a well-organized speech; propose a plan or create a new work or writing, music, art; integrate learning from different areas into a plan to solve new problems, formulate or develop new schemes for classifying.
Verbs for expressing learning outcomes will be: Compile, compose, create, devise, design, generate, modify, organize, plan, rearrange, reconstruct, relate, revise, rewrite, and write.
Social work is a profession which enables and motivates trainees to be part of programs, researches, and to develop communication skills, research skills, program planning skills; but social work institutes in Nepal do not provide ample opportunities to the learners to participate in seminars and conferences. Even programs are mostly planned, organized by the institute itself.
Evaluation is concerned with the ability to judge the value of a material (statement, novel, poem, research report) for a given purpose. The judgments are to be based on definite criteria. These may be internal criteria (organization) or external criteria (relevance to the purpose), and the student may determine the criteria or be given to them. Learning outcomes in this area are highest in the cognitive hierarchy because they contain elements of all the other categories, plus conscious value judgments based on clearly defined criteria.
Objectives: Judge the logical consistency, the adequacy of conclusions, the value of a work by use of internal criteria, the value of a work by use of external standards.
Verbs for expressing learning outcomes will be: Appraise, compare, conclude, contrast, critique, justify, interpret, relate, support.
The evaluation method of social work trainee is not very satisfactory. The external evaluation takes place once in a six months for BSW, and once a year for BA social work. Students are evaluated based on their report and knowledge. There is a need to move forward in evaluation process which should encourage student’s initiative and original thinking rather than just report and knowledge based.
1.3 SOCIAL WORK PROFESSION IN NEPAL
Social workers are trained and experienced professionals. Only those who have earned social work degrees at the bachelor’s, masters’ or doctoral levels, and completed a minimum number of hours in supervised fieldwork, are “professional social workers.”
Social Work is a young profession in Nepal. Social work as an academic discipline started in 1996 at St. Xavier’s College, Kathmandu. There is a broader scope of Social work in Nepal. Nepalese Social Workers can work in schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, senior citizens’ centers, private practice, prisons, military, corporations, and in numerous public and private agencies that serve individuals, families, groups and communities in need.
Social work, however, is a misunderstood profession in Nepal. It is known and taught as a discipline rather than profession. The Government has taken it as a discipline and most of the people do not know about social work in Nepal. They think that social work is similar to Sociology. The practitioners are not able to unite to form a National Level Council or Association of Social Work in Nepal. There is no clarity regarding who are Social workers and who are not.
1.3.1 Social Work Theory in Nepal and Credibility of the Profession
Theories are taught in class room and trainees practice those theories in field work. Theory helps to enhance knowledge to a great extent and field work helps to develop skills to a great extent. Social work is a subject which mainly focuses on theoretical and practical aspects equally. It helps to build networking with other professionals and enhance social interaction. There are many disciplines in Nepal; but now-a- days students are attracted to social work field because of such unique characteristics of social work education.
Till yesterday, students first studied the subjects, they wrote the exam and when they tried to apply those theories they failed to implement those theories in practice. But social work provides opportunity to concurrently use the theory in Practice. Most of the Nepalese Colleges and universities have four days of theory classes (including Individual conference, Group conference) and two days of field work. Generally, the social work students have been placed in different types of agencies, communities, VDC office, Government, Non-government, and International Non-Government Agencies to practice the theories which they studied in class room. It gives knowledge as well as skill to work with individuals, group, community, administration, research and social action if needed. Students practice these six methods of social work.
Social work is an imported profession from western countries. Western ideology and philosophy regarding social work always dominate over the developing countries’ ideology and philosophy. Desai (2002), states that the Indian society is structured by families and communities, where as the Western social work approach is individualistic. The Indian religions emphasize duties whereas the western liberalism emphasizes freedom as the goal. While the Indian ideologies are holistic and wisdom oriented, the American professional ideologies are analytical and scientific”.
Nepal and India are neighboring countries and the social and religious structure of Nepal and India are somewhat similar. Whatever Desai has stated about social work practice in India are also applicable in Nepal. There are also differences between Nepali society and western society. If the society is different, culture is different, situation is different, it is sure that the principles, theory, and practice pattern should be different. Social Work should focus on indigenous context. If you teach a child “A” for “Aero plane” it is difficult to understand for those children who never got a chance to see the plane; but if you teach “A” for “Ant”, it is easy to understand because we are familiar with ants. Social Work trainees face the same kind of difficulty in field work. Nepalese Social work trainees tried to practice western theories, methods, and principles which are difficult to apply in Nepalese context.
Social workers talk about six methods of social work: Social Case Work, Social Group Work, Community Organization, Social Welfare Administration, Social Work Research and Social Action. All have their own values, principles, procedures, techniques and so on. In western countries, people live individual life, so they mostly have psychological problems and in case work theories, we mostly talk about clinical social work, psychiatric social work and other individual emotion related problems. In group work, Social work trainees are informed about the procedures of selection of members, and others in the same way. But in Nepalese context, mostly, people love to live with family that gives emotional support. So, people of developing countries, generally face less psychological torture because they have medium and resource to share their feelings which is not easily available in western countries. For a Social worker a client is a person who has problem and s/he comes to the Social Worker to seek help. But in our context, or when we are practicing field work, we have to findout the clients by ourselves. In western countries, clients easily share their problems which we cannot see in Nepal. People feel hesitant to share their pain and sorrow to others or in front of an unknown person who is going to treat him as a client.
Social work is thus an imported as well as a developing profession. To build credibility of this profession, a practitioner should focus on indigenous values, principles, methods which are suitable in Nepalese context.
1.3.2 Growing Social Work Institutions in Nepal
Now, Social Work is taught and practiced in most of the countries of the world. There are approximately four universities, which offer social work education in Nepal. There are more than 40 colleges imparting social work education as an optional choice and three of them are providing BSW and MSW courses. Exact statistics of social workers is not available.
In 1996, St. Xavier’s college started BSW course after getting permission from Kathmandu University and almost after 10 years Kadambari College started BSW program in affiliation to Purwanchal University. Now among the 90 colleges affiliated to Tribhuwan University, 40 colleges offer social work education. Seven colleges from Kathmandu University, Purwanchal University and Mid-western University are affiliated.
The curricula of Kathmandu University, Purwanchal University, and Mid-Western University and Tribhuwan University have four days of theory classes and two days of field work education.
1.4 OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOCIAL WORK TRAINEES IN FIELD WORK AND CLASS ROOM
Social Work is a professional course which provides both classroom activities and field activities. These activities help Social Work students to gain broader areas of knowledge related to human nature, society, and methods of social work. The curriculum of Social Work includes field work under which each and every student is sent to a particular organization working with the existing social problems of Nepal where they get an opportunity to practice Social Work and integrate theory into practice.
Social Work provides activities which helps to understand the real problems and the real issues of society. Classroom learning helps to understand the theoretical part of society and the field work helps to understand the strengths and challenges of applying the theory into practice.
However, Social Work students need even more facilities of learning such as real life based theories, assignments, group discussions, presentations, seminars, conferences and other extra-curricular activities.
1.5 CHALLENGES FOR SOCIAL WORK TRAINEES IN FIELD WORK AND CLASSROOM
Social Work is a developing profession in Nepal. Even though it is an internationally recognized profession it has not yet established itself as a Profession in Nepal. Efforts are being made to gain reorganization of social work as a profession in Nepal. Doctors, engineers, and other professions are well known in Nepal but not social work. Some social workers themselves believe that Social work is just a discipline.
Highly trained and experienced professionals should teach the students to get qualitative education. Only those who have earned social work degrees at the bachelor’s, masters’ or doctoral levels, and completed a minimum number of hours in supervised fieldwork, are “professional social workers.” But unfortunately, there are hardly any lecturers who completed their doctoral degree in Social Work. There is lack of experienced lecturers and supervisors. In addition, earlier a BSW holder used to teach for BASW and BSW degrees. Even now there are a few field work coordinators who do not have Master’s degree in Social work (MSW).
Social work trainees sent to I/N/GOs are treated as volunteers rather than social Work trainees. They do not get proper guidance and instruction. Even the colleges are not giving importance to their skills development and their overall development. One of the major challenges of Social work learners may be that there is no deep root of social work in Nepal. Other challenges maybe lack of sufficient materials related to Nepalese context and division among social work students, educators and professionals and lack of interest to initiate collective forum to promote social work practice.
The Chapter has highlighted various aspects of social work profession and education as it stands today in Nepal. The research study probes further into these aspects as per the experience of social work trainees of Nepal.
The researcher reviewed various books, journals and articles related to social work profession, social work practice system, opportunities and challenges for social work education and opportunities and challenges for social work trainees.
2.1 SOCIAL WORK PROFESSION
The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living (ABECSW, 2002). So, social work is a profession which works for the needs of the individuals. Social workers are facilitators to enhance well being and happiness of individuals and social work education involves classroom activities field work activities in order to prepare personnel in this field.
According to Gordons (1962), a profession can make explicit its shared values and specific purposes, its knowledge and techniques; it has defined its practice. When interventive action is controlled by this constellation of value, knowledge, purpose, and techniques of the profession may be interventive but it is not professional practice. So, profession mainly consists of values, knowledge, recognition, and guiding bodies.
Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients. The word “Client” is used inclusively to refer to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in the form of direct practice, community organization, supervision, consultation, administration, advocacy, social and political action, policy development and implementation, education, research and evaluation. Social workers seek to enhance the capacity of people to address their own needs. They also seek to promote the responsiveness of organizations, communities, and other social institutions to individuals’ needs and social problems (ABECSW, 2002). They work for the social justice for clients, and social work learners learn these skills through classroom activities and field work, active participation and organizing programs. Field work activities enable social work learners to be sensitive to cultural and ethnicity, diversities. In addition, social work learners get theoretical knowledge about these in classroom through their own classmates, lecturers and resource persons.
It even remains debatable whether social work is a profession. For example, in USA, social workers have embraced different theories at different times (Ehrenreich, 1985). There are also different perspectives competing with each other in social work (Ehrenreich, 1985; Tsang and Yan, 2001). In both USA and UK, social work has been obsessed with professional status (Ehrenreich, 1985; O’Neill, 1999). Little evidence indicates that social work can work well in western societies, so how can we expect social work introduced or implanted from western societies to work well in other countries? The emphasis, that social work introduced or imported from western societies cannot work well in a different country, is likely to give the impression that western social work works well in western societies and may lead some people to neglect many western social workers’ continuous efforts to improve social work practice, education and research.
The way of behaving, life-style, culture and socio-demographic characteristics of Nepal differ from western culture. So it is not very easy for social work learners in Nepal to implement those imported social work techniques in Nepalese context. They cannot practice all the methods as it is in theory. The clients are not willing to come to the social worker because they still are unaware of social work profession. What is needed is adaptation of the methods and techniques by which they can practice them with necessary modification suitable to Nepalese society.
2.2 SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE SYSTEM
Social Work practice system is an open system, subject to the vagaries and exigencies of its environment. The professional system’s environment is the society in which it exists and from which it draws energy to maintain its existence. Social work is in constant interaction with dynamic social forces that influence perspectives, purpose, knowledge, and practice methods (Jr. Federico, 2001).
Social work Practice acknowledges complexities and continues to rely on original constellation of Value, Purpose, Knowledge, Sanction and Method as a way to conceptualize the basic elements of the profession (Allexander, 1997).
The Education Policy and Accreditation standards of Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) are based on a competency-based education format that prescribes attention to outcome performance (EPAS, 2008, p. 2). Those competencies are based on knowledge, values, and skills with emphasis on integrating those competencies into practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities. We will state these competencies in terms of what a competent social work graduate should be able to do when S/he completes the courses.
2.3 OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF SOCIAL WORK EDUCATION
Social work courses that incorporate current technologies can offer new possibilities for teaching and learning (Jyotsna, 2013).
Social Work education begins in a structured manner at higher educational institutions (universities and colleges), coupled with or followed by practical internships, but it is also an ongoing process that occurs through research and in the workplace.
The ways of indigenization have been intensively discussed. A literature review by Cheung and Liu (2004) summarized five guidelines for promoting indigenous social work in developing countries. The first is to build an indigenous foundation, such as a philosophical basis, theories, working principles and approaches in social work education. The second is to address social problems and develop strategies within an indigenous social and developmental context. The third is to redefine the central focus, knowledge and value bases of social work practice from western countries and develop indigenous conceptual frameworks and methodologies. The fourth is to acknowledge the historical and cultural experiences and realities of indigenous peoples. The fifth is to conduct social work practice from the perspective of local community expertise and resources.
Social work education and profession should promote freedom, equality, justice and dignity for indigenous people; but western social work’s values and principles might not be pursued or preferred by indigenous people themselves.
The argument of professional imperialism in social work by the proponents of indigenization needs further examination. For example, Midgley (1981) stated that ‘western social workers exerted a powerful influence over their Third World colleagues and they imposed alien theories and techniques on developing countries, which were unsuited to their cultures and development needs’. It can be questioned whether these western social workers were in fact representatives of western social work as such, or whether as individual professionals they failed to adhere to the values of social work (Xiong and Young, 2008).
Actually, social, cultural and personal differences are inherent assumptions of social work practice, education and research. Social work’s basic values, such as respect for persons, respect for diversity, client’s self-determination, providing individuals with the opportunities to realize their potential and so on (Reamer, 1994) imply that social workers should respond sensitively to different people and environments and be tuned in to cultural, social and personal diversity. The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) also states ‘social workers should recognize and respect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the societies in which they practice, taking account of individual, family, group and community differences’ (IFSW, 2004). Any professional social worker is assumed to be respectful and flexible in dealing with social, cultural and personal differences in social work practice, education and research. What the proponents of indigenization claim, that social work should be adapted to fit local contexts, is not something new or special, but an implicit requirement of social work.
As social workers, we are inherently expected to integrate social and cultural knowledge and sensitivity with skills for a socially and culturally appropriate and effective helping practice. Social workers in developing countries, along with social workers in western and other countries, emphasize social work as an achievement of human civilization and improve social work practice, education and research.
Social work education began in Nepal with the entry of BSW program in 1996 at St. Xavier’s College (Nikku, B.R) after getting approval from Kathmandu University. It is a process that entails refinement of what each student brings socialization to the values of the profession; learning about theories of human behavior and social work practice; developing practice skills; acquiring information about policies and resources to be applied in practice; maximizing awareness of personal prejudices, boundaries and limitations; and ongoing skill enhancement through study and reflection. It incorporates social work knowledge, values and skills. BSW students bring with them a diversity of personal characteristics, life experiences, ethnic and cultural heritages, beliefs and value systems, educational preparation and work histories.
Now, most western Countries have licensing boards that certify social workers for practice and review allegations of unethical conduct (Land, 1988; DeAngelis, 2000). But unfortunately, Nepal is not yet able to establish governing body for social workers.
Bellefeuille (2006) found that technology can enhance the learning process particularly in relation to decision making, reflection, and critical thinking; that technology is an effective medium that facilitates a learner’s taking charge of his or her learning; and education takes advantage of human and technologically based learning interactions that expand beyond student and faculty interactions.
According to one of the recent estimates, “there are about 92 colleges and institutions (including Universities) who are getting affiliation to provide Social Work education (BASW and BSW) and three Universities (Purwanchal University, St. Xavier’s College, Mid-Western University and Tribhuwan University) are offering MSW Program.
2.4 OPPORTUNITES AND CHALLENGES OF SOCIAL WORK TRAINEES
Social workers are expected to increase and refine their practice knowledge and skills throughout their professional career through self-study, review of practice outcomes, ongoing education, supervision and/or consultation as appropriate. As is true for all social workers, they are ethically bound to restrict practice activities to their level of skill achievement, unless under supervision aimed at learning new skills (NASW Code of Ethics, 1.04). But unfortunately, Nepalese social workers are not getting opportunity to feel the guiding body because as mentioned earlier no any guiding body has been yet established in Nepal.
Professional development is the process by which social workers increase their knowledge and disciplined application of interventive skill throughout their career. This process builds upon a fundamental orientation to and acceptance of the values and methods of professional social work. Social work Students are required to expand this knowledge through learned application of social work theories and skills—initially in mandatory supervised practice and later through self-study and participation in voluntary consultation as needed (Garrett, 1995; Fook, Ryan & Hawkins, 1997).
Learning and mastery of new skills at all levels of professional development require both the cognitive grasp of theory and an adequate experience of practicing the skills through self-review and by engaging in appropriate supervision and/or consultation. In all cases beyond the minimum acceptable level for independent practice, the readiness of an individual to use and apply new skills without supervision should be judged by demonstrated ability or mastery of those skills, and not solely as a function of time spent in the learning process (Goldstein, 1980).
Some of the major challenges of social work trainees are:
- Defining Specialized Areas in Social Work Practice
- Declining Attention to Content in Graduate Education
- Reestablishing Standards for Supervision
- Practice Research as an Aspect of Social Work Practice
- Professional Standards and Legal Regulation of Practice
There is a need for research to further understand student learning in alternative learning environments, how social work educators learn to adapt to learning environments and what kind of training is necessary in order to support faculty development programs.
The conventional system of social work education has not proved to be responsive to social development concerns of contemporary society and to the need for trained professionals to manage social development programs. There is also a demonstrable need for social workers in areas, which lack educational opportunities and resources. Inadequate number of formally trained social work professionals’ forces local organizations to employ paraprofessional and non-social work personnel (Jyotsna, 2013).
Social work course mainly aims at humanism and deals with direct human contact. Social work educators describe themselves as people centered persons and it is understandable, given the nature of the profession. Social Work education provides the opportunity to interact directly with the instructor on a regular basis as the instructor is seen every week. The material used for instruction is either directly developed by the course coordinators or consultants who do not have enough teaching experience. The material provided by the course does not allow students’ speculation and creativity. The field work allotted to the students allows minimum interaction with the realistic situation practical learning and lacks good guidance and supervision.
The course is designed in such a way that it enriches the emotional relationship between the lecturer and the learner, which is characterized by mutual trust, warmth and nurturing. The student outcomes such as listening, self-evaluation, creativity, openness, goal setting, and self-direction are high as compared to the regular instruction.
Field work is widely acknowledged among Social Work Educators which is an integral and necessary component of Social Work Education. “Learning by doing” has been the hallmark of social work education and the thrust of social work practicum is to learn how to apply theoretical social work material to a hands-on situation; how to cope with the practical limitations of a real-life environment and how to be useful to ‘real’ people with ‘real’ problems in a real setting that is less than ideal.
However, field work practicum demands minimum efforts from the students; NGOs based placements are still practiced by many institutions. The supervisors and courses are offering very less efforts for community organization which is the prior need of developing countries like Nepal. In some institutions there is lack of regular individual and group conferences which is not taken seriously by students as well as supervisors.
The teaching method used under the social work education is usually Lecture method. Many institutions have part time lecturers and a lecturer teach at least four to five institutions and they have regular class. From one institution to another institution distance is not less than 10 minutes as a result of which many lecturers either arrive late or they leave the class earlier. Assignments, seminars, national and international conferences are almost zero.
2.5 INDIGENOUS SOCIAL WORK AND ITS NECESSESITY IN NEPAL
Walton and Abo El Nasr (1988) identified that the notion of indigenization appeared in relation to social work for the first time in 1971, when the fifth United Nations international survey of social work training used it to refer to the inappropriateness of American social work theories for other societies. They emphasized the importance of the social, political, cultural and economic characteristics of a particular country and pointed out that the indigenization of social work is a process from ‘importing’ to ‘authentication’. It means a modification of western social work discourse in response to the importing countries’ unique social problems, needs, values, culture and so on. A tri-dimensional model of indigenization in social work, which includes universality and specificity, dominance and minority, as well as tradition and present situations, was conceptualized by Yip (2006).
Western social workers imposed western social work theories and techniques in developing countries without considering indigenous cultures and development issues (Midgley, 1981). Midgley also questioned the individualism, humanitarianism, liberalism, work ethic and capitalism unrestricted by government intervention as valued by the (western) founders of social work. He argued that western ideas, technologies and institutions replicated in the developing countries were actually to serve the interests of developed countries and establish a new colonialism in a more subtle and effective way in order to have power over them.
In his literature review, Yip (2005) also suggested five components of indigenization in social work practice, including the adaptation of western social work practice; implementation in the local context; a local indigenized criticism of the impact of professional imperialism and colonialism; and a re-engineering of skills and techniques.
In summary, according to the arguments by the proponents of indigenization, social work, which is dominated by western world views, concepts, theories, methodologies and so on, should be modified or redefined to respond to diverse social and cultural perspectives in non-western countries. The purpose of indigenization, therefore, is to make social work education, research and practice fit the local contexts.
At present, there is little evidence to suggest that social and cultural structures cannot be improved and that most people in developing countries are against western social work’s values and principles. It seems that social workers should make more efforts to analyze the indigenous social and cultural structure and find effective ways to improve or change it for a better one (Xiong and Young, 2008).
Some western social work principles, such as self- determination and non-directedness, have to be modified in order to meet the needs of clients in developing countries. The emphasis on this principle by the proponents of indigenization is likely to lead to confusion and will probably lead some people to believe that western social workers do not follow this principle.
Furthermore, almost all proponents of indigenization in social work have emphasized that social work introduced or imported from western societies cannot work well in countries with different social and cultural contexts.
The review of literature highlights the opportunities and challenges faced by social workers in Nepal. Next chapter will deal with the methodology of the study.
Research is a search for knowledge through objective and systematic method of finding solution to a problem. This chapter on methodology of the study, outlines the systematic and scientific procedure adopted such as problem formulation, objectives of the study, scope of the study, research design, universe, sampling, tools of data collection, sources of data collection, experience of the researcher, data processing and analysis, limitations of the study and report design.
3.1 PROBLEM FORMULATION
Nepal is a developing country and education in social work is still very young. Nepalese social workers are the change agents of Nepalese society. Educational institution is a place from where social workers gain knowledge and skills to transform the society. It is important to know the challenges faced as well as opportunities accessed by social work learners in the academic and field sectors.
Social work educational institutions should be equipped with the basic necessities of education such as qualified professors, experienced field supervisors and sufficient books, as well as opportunities for skills lab, seminars, conferences, and so on. The researcher observed that in Nepal, many students are not able to sufficiently access these resources although they do have a limited opportunity for network building, integration of theory and practice, problem identification and engagement in problem solving process. All of them are not getting opportunity to be trained by experienced social workers. Researcher himself was once a BASW learners and he was aware of a few of the challenges and the opportunities available in field work as well as in classroom.
So far no research studies have been undertaken on social work trainees in Nepal. Hence the researcher wanted to explore the opportunities and challenges faced by social work trainees of Nepal.
3.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
- To understand the personal characteristics of respondents.
- To findout the opportunities and challenges faced by social work trainees in class room learning process.
- To explore the opportunities and challenges faced by social work trainees in field work practice.
- To find out the importance and relevance of contextualized social work practice in Nepal with special reference to the methods of social work
3.3 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is limited to 50 respondents who are BSW/BASW learners of Nepal. The findings of the study can be utilized by social work learners, social work institutions, social work professionals and social work faculty of the country or of places which have similar background of Nepal.
3.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
By research design we mean the plan or procedure for data collection and analysis that are undertaken to evaluate a particular theoretical perspective.
An explorative research design was chosen for the study undertaken on “Opportunities and challenges for Social Work Trainees in Nepal”. So far no research studies have been conducted in Nepal on social work trainees.
All the Social work learners of Nepal, who are getting formal education from recognized institutions of Nepal Government, constitute the universe of this study.
The researcher used non-probability sampling methods as a sampling design because researcher does not have the exact number of social work students and he was time bound to complete the research within six months. He used snowball sampling method which helped to get respondents easily. In the beginning researcher identified a few respondents by himself and later he requested each and every respondent to forward the questionnaire to their BSW/BASW friends.
3.7 TOOLS OF DATA COLLECTION
A 53-item Questionnaire designed as per the objectives of the study was used the major tool of data collection. The Questionnaire had both open ended and close ended questions.
3.8 SOURCES OF DATA COLLECTION
The data for the study were collected mainly from primary sources, that is, 50 respondents of the sample survey. Information for the proposed study was also collected from secondary sources of data such as books, journals and internet. The published and unpublished sources were helpful for this research.
3.9 EXPERIENCE OF THE RESEARCHER DURING DATA COLLECTION
During collecting data from the social work learners, initially, researcher did not get proper assistance and cooperation from the respondents. After realizing the intensity and the depth of the research, they extended support and resources. When researcher sent questionnaire through email for further data, they asked various questions regarding the topic and uses of it. Some of them encouraged the researcher and told that it is good to study about social work learners itself and the topic is good for the study. Even some respondents provided feedback as well. Researcher did not ask permission from the institutions of respondents because he sent questionnaire through e-mail and the students voluntarily joined in the process of data collection. Earlier it was really difficult to get their response.
The daily load shedding was also one of the challenges for the researcher because even though respondents wanted to answer immediately, due to power cut they could not. Only those who have access to computer or laptop were able to reply; others found it difficult. Some social work learners also complained that they are not able to become a part of the study.
3.10 DATA PROCESSING AND ANALYSIS
The raw data collected were edited, classified and coded and then entered into Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) after which they were analyzed. Tables, graphs and pie charts have been used in analyzing the data for interpretation, and presentation. The researcher also applied arithmetic mean to interpret the data. To prepare tables researcher used word file as well as excel document.
3.10 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
- Since the study was academic in nature it was time bound, limited to six months.
- The tool used for the study, that is, questionnaire had its own limitations. Researcher was not able to interview face to face and as such, he was not able to cross question the respondents or clarify certain queries. Further, many of the questions were open-ended due to which certain questions were answered subjectively.
- Though the researcher had planned for a pilot study in order to rectify the limitations of the questionnaire, the researcher could not carry out the pilot study due to the difficulty of contacting the respondents in the initial stage.
- The respondents were not ready to reveal certain confidential matters of their academics such as name of the institution, and family background due to instability of political situation. Certain questions were left unanswered by the respondents.
- The sample size was too small compared to the unknown population which included all the social work learners of Nepal.
- Only learners who have access to computer or laptop or internet could be part of the research, but the students who do not use internet, could not be covered under the study.
3.12 REPORT DESIGN
The research report consists of 5 chapters. The first chapter introduces the topic. The second chapter review of literature available on Opportunities and Challenges for social work trainees. The third chapter gives whole procedure of the research. The fourth chapter gives result of the study. The fifth and last chapter deals with major findings, recommendation, and conclusions.
5.1 MAJOR FINDINGS
5.1.1 Personal Characteristics
- A vast majority of 62 per cent of the respondents are 20-23 years of age and 38 per cent of them are 24-27 years of age.
- A large majority of 94 per cent of the respondents are Hindus, the others being Muslims and Christians.
- A majority of the respondents (56 per cent) are BSW students and the rest of the respondents are BASW learners.
- A large majority of 84 per cent of the respondents have opted for social work with a purpose and focus such as own/family interest, desire to be a social work professional or to work in I/NGOs.
- A majority of 60 per cent of the respondents have desire to work either with communities or with non-governmental organisations reflecting the commitment of social work students who are trained for social change to get involved in developmental activities.
5.1.2 Opportunities and challenges faced by social work trainees in class room learning process
- A vast majority of 64 per cent of the respondents opine that all the papers taught in classroom help to develop knowledge about social work indicating the relevance of the syllabus covered. However, the fact that 36 per cent of them do not have the same opinion also points towards the need for strengthening the process of curriculum development and revision of syllabus.
- A vast majority 73 per cent of the BASW learners feel that all the papers help to develop knowledge of social work whereas only 57 per cent of the BSW learners feel in the same way indicating a slightly higher relevance of papers taught for BASW than BSW.
- A relative majority of 36 per cent of the respondents like Integrated Social Work as it is a practical subject and content is good.
- A vast majority of 64 per cent of the respondents like practical papers and 50 per cent of them do not like certain papers because of the teaching methodology and theoretical stuff.
- A vast majority of 64 per cent of the respondents are not satisfied with assignments. They prefer to have assignments because: a) it helps to gain knowledge (64 per cent), b) it develop creativity (9 per cent). The main reasons behind dissatisfaction with assignments are: a) Not interested to do assignments (50 per cent), b) No assignments (26 per cent), c) not relevant assignments (20 per cent)
- A majority of 56 per cent respondents are satisfied with the classroom learning. The main reasons behind satisfaction with classroom learning are: a) Sharing of learners’ perspectives (53%), b) To know subject matter (20%). The main reasons behind dissatisfaction with classroom learning are: a) Less experienced lecturers (40 per cent), b) Notes based classes (30 per cent), c) Not suitable environment (20 per cent).
- A large majority of 80 per cent of the respondents are satisfied with the group discussions. The main reasons behind satisfaction with the Group discussions are: a) To gain knowledge (38 per cent), b) to know others’ perspectives (30 per cent), c) to discover new things (13 per cent), d) to find solution. All the respondents who are not satisfied with the group discussion felt that there is not enough group discussion.
- A large majority of 80 per cent of the respondents are satisfied with the learners’ presentations. The main reasons to be satisfied with the learners’ presentations are: a) it helps to develop skills (55 per cent), b) it helps to build confidence (30 per cent, and c) enhances knowledge (15 per cent). All the respondents who are not satisfied with the learners’ presentation felt that they are not getting opportunities for presentations.
- A vast majority of 60 per cent of the respondents are satisfied with the organizing seminars and conferences. The main reasons behind satisfied with organizing seminars and conferences are: a) to learn new things (33 per cent), b) to build professional network (30 per cent), c) to update the ideas (27 per cent). The main reasons behind dissatisfaction with organizing seminars and conferences are: a) not getting opportunities (55 per cent), b) not interested (40 per cent).
- The activities that help to develop skills on campus are: a) Program Participation (70 per cent), b) Group discussions (56 per cent), c) Assignments and presentations (54 per cent).
- The activities help to develop social work values are: a) Field work and exposure camp (50 per cent), b) Event organization (44 per cent), c) active participation of trainees (42 per cent), following social work norms and values (38 per cent).
- A relative majority of 36 per cent of the respondents say that all the lecturers are fulltime lecturers but 32 per cent respondents also reveal that there is not even a single fulltime lecturer in social work department.
- A majority of 52 per cent of the respondents respond that all the lecturers hold social work degree.
- All the respondents state that there is an established social work department in the institutes.
- With regard to educational process the levels of satisfaction of learners of social work in Nepal are observed as follows:
- The learners of social work in Nepal have a good level of satisfaction with regard to use of participatory teaching methods as a vast majority of 68 per cent of them have rated it good/excellent.
- An average level of satisfaction is observed with regard to lecturers, and co-curricular activities as 52 per cent of them have rated lecturers as good/excellent, and 54 per cent of them consider co-curricular activities as good/excellent.
- A poor level of satisfaction is observed with regard to library as only 40 per cent of them rated it excellent/good and 32 per cent of them rated it poor/very poor.
- With regard to professional involvement the learners have diverse opinions as given below:
- A majority of 54 per cent and 56 per cent of respondents consider interaction with practitioners and network with NGOs as good/excellent respectively.
- A relative majority of 44 per cent of the respondents have rated involvement in social issues as poor. A majority of 54 percent of the respondents also show their dissatisfaction with Network with Associations of Social Work as poor. With regard to social involvement networking with Government organizations a vast majority of 64 per cent respondent rated it as poor/very poor.
- A relative majority of 40 per cent and a majority of 54 per cent of the respondents rated library and infrastructure in classroom as excellent/good.
- The main challenges faced by social work trainees are a) less resources and not suitable environment (60 per cent), b) less students participation (48 per cent), c) difficult to understand (36 per cent).
- The main opportunities accessed by social work trainees in classrooms are: a) good rapport with friends (40 per cent), b) better group practice (34 per cent).
5.1.3 OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR SOCIAL WORK TRAINEES IN FIELD WORK
- A large majority of 92 per cent of the respondents are placed in Non governmental agencies for field work.
- A large majority of 92 per cent of the respondents have spent two days in field work and a vast majority of 74 per cent of the respondents have spent 10-15hours per week.
- All of the respondents are involved in administrative work. A large majority of 82 per cent of the respondents are practicing social group work regularly in field work and a vast majority of 60 per cent respondents are also practicing social case work regularly during field work.
- A relative majority of 48 per cent of the respondents never practiced social action method during field work.
- All the respondents said that their field supervisors have Social work background.
- A majority of 56 per cent of the respondents rated excellent/good for the individual conferences but 32 per cent of the respondents also rated it as very poor. A relative majority of 36 per cent of the BSW respondents rated individual conference as excellent whereas a relative majority of 45 per cent BASW respondents rated individual conference as very poor.
- A relative majority of 48 per cent of the respondents rated group conference as excellent/good whereas 46 per cent of the respondents also rated it as very poor/poor. A relative majority of 54 per cent of the BASW respondents rated very poor for the group conference and a relative majority of 36 per cent BSW respondents rated it as excellent.
- A relative majority of 46 per cent of the respondents rated excellent/good for the professional guidance from field supervisor and a majority of 56 per cent of the respondents rated excellent/good to the professional guidance from faculty supervisor.
- A vast majority of 60 per cent of the respondents rated good/excellent for the opportunities to practice social work methods during field work.
- A vast majority of 74 per cent of the respondents rated for opportunities to program planning and implementation as good/excellent indicating the possibility for faulty identification of social workers as program organizers than professionals.
- The main challenges faced by social work trainees during field are a) not recognized as social work trainees (34 per cent), b) difficult to implement ideas (28 per cent), and c) not clear what to do (20 per cent).
- The main opportunities gained during field work are a) enhancing knowledge about administration work, b) platform to show creativity.
- Importance and relevance of indigenous knowledge in social work practice in Nepal with special reference to the methods of social work
- A majority of 52 per cent of the respondents do not consider NGOs employees as social workers.
- A majority of 58 per cent of the respondents considered social work degree holders as social workers.
- A majority of 56 per cent of the respondents consider volunteers for social service as a social workers.
- A relative majority of 48 per cent respondents do not consider politicians as social worker.
- A vast majority of 60 per cent respondents do not agree that social work is a profession.
- The main reason behind social work is not a profession are a) Lack of recognition (70 per cent), b) lack of social work knowledge (30 per cent).
- The main reasons behind social work is profession are a) there is various scopes of social work, b) it works to solve individual and communities problems (25 per cent), c) there is a department of social work (20 per cent).
- A vast majority of 64 per cent and a majority of 56 per cent respondents are agree that the NGOs are applying social welfare administration method and social work research methods whereas a majority of 50 per cent respondents respond that the NGOs are not applying social action method. In addition, there is a mix opinion on primary methods are applied by NGOs.
- As per the opinion of majority of the respondents the most important social work methods in Nepal are social case work (76 per cent: 1st and 2nd ranks), social work research(50 per cent: 1st and 2nd ranks), social group work (28 per cent: 1st and 2nd Ranks), social welfare administration (24 per cent: 1st and 2nd ranks), Community organization (20 per cent: 1st and 2nd ranks) and social action (4 per cent: 1st and 2nd ranks) respectively.
- A vast majority of 68 per cent of the respondents agree that the principles of social case work are applicable in Nepal.
- A vast majority of 63 per cent of the respondents are considered principles of social case work are not related to Nepalese context.
- A majority of 58 per cent of the respondents believe that social work is accepted by public.
- The main reasons to accept social work by the public are a) people seek help from social workers (41 per cent), b) public accept it as a discipline (28 per cent), c) public accept it as a profession (17 per cent).
- The reasons behind social work is not accepted by the public are a) people do not know what social work is (38 per cent), b) social workers are fail to perform their roles (33 per cent), c) social workers do not get attractive salary (14 per cent).
- The uniqueness of social work is: a) the role in community itself is unique (46 per cent), action against social issues and problems (42 per cent), social workers work by heart (34 per cent).
- The process of curriculum development in social work needs to be strengthened through dialogues and exchange of ideas, experiences, best practices in knowledge and skills development as well as field work practice with stakeholders in social work profession such as other national and international institutions, NGOs, employers and alumni. Practical papers which help to enhance knowledge about social work and develop attitudes required for social work practice must be included. Learner centered approached must be applied in this process.
- The syllabus should be designed and modified according to the time and need so that the content is applicable in their own and others’ life as well as easy to understand.
- One sided teaching method which is also known as traditional teaching method is no more worthy for the development of learners and especially in social work field. Participatory teaching methodologies such as group discussion, learners’ presentations, exposure camps, and experiential learning through field work, skills labs, organizing seminars and conferences and participation in programs must be facilitated, strengthened and focused.
- Times are changing and education should be two ways rather than continuous one sided lecture. The students also have various ideas regarding the topics covered. So lecturers should motivate learners to share their ideas and enhance peer learning.
- Presentations help the learners to develop self confidence, self belief. Presentations may be in classroom and/or outside the classrooms. The learners should get opportunity to present papers on seminars and conferences.
- Social work institutes should be able to organize university level, local, regional, national and international seminars and conferences in every academic year. Through seminars and conferences learners also get opportunity to develop professional networking, s/he also can update ideas regarding various issues, learn new things as well as creativity and enhances the prestige of institutes.
- Assignments which bring forth the original thinking, creativity and updated knowledge of the learners must be framed which will enhance learners motivations and interest in undertaking assignments. Since assignments have high potential for personal and professional growth of learners they must be compulsorily in corporate in the assessment process. Assignments not only help to gain knowledge, but also improve the competencies among the students and enhance personal confidence, and punctuality.
- Lecturers have a significant role to play in forming committed, competent and ethically sensitive social work professionals and they are the mentors for the budding social work trainees. Hence, care must be taken to recruit and employ experienced, and fulltime lecturers with social work degree.
- Social work is a profession which helps to build an attitude which enable social work learners to understand the society, their positive as well as negative aspects, problems, probability solution and others. So the learners themselves as well as the institutes and lecturers should motivate and guide them to build social work attitude.
- Library is the most important source and hub of knowledge. Sufficient books, reference books, social work related magazines, journals, researches, newspapers and e-resources must be available in the library. Social Work institutes must endeavor to improve their library resources and should motivate learners to visit the library frequently.
- Involvement in social issues helps learners to feel the issues and gain firsthand experience in handling such concerns. It is much better than inside the four wall teaching methods. Learners can understand the issues if they have already gone through that. The finding that the involvement of the learners in social issues is not very satisfactory strongly suggests that institutions should focus on this to the development of learners’ knowledge, skills and attitudes.
- Practitioners can explain the insights they have gained through experience rather than from books, particularly when they are applying the methods. It is essential for social work institutes to hire or request the practitioners and let them share their experience and challenges as well as the opportunities they are getting as a professionals.
- The world is not stable. Gone are the days of just ‘chalk and talk’. Institutes must enable the lecturers to use multi-sensory devices for teaching by improving on physical as well as technical infrastructure and equipment in classrooms.
- Co-curricular activities such as exposure visits, organizing and participating in workshops, seminars and conferences must be conducted every year and strengthened.
- Since social work education has completed two decades of existence in Nepal, it is high time that at least one local/regional/national association for social workers should be formed or at least build networking with international associations of social work.
- Networking with government agencies are not satisfactory level among the social work colleges in Nepal although they have good network with non government agencies. Special focus must be given to build networking with government agencies.
- Joint efforts of the learners, lecturers as well as institutions are required to address the issues faced by the learners in field work as well as class room.
- Social work training and educational institutions in Nepal must undertake concerted efforts to explore more areas of social work interventions for enhancing the quality of field work training. Joint workshops could be organized by these institutions in collaboration with potential field work agencies such as educational settings, governmental agencies, correctional settings, health settings and industrial settings and so on as the opportunities accessed by global social work professionals.
- The entire social work learners are part of administrative work but no one is getting chance to involve in the process of planning. Concurrent field work is a challenge for the trainees as well as NGOs. NGOs cannot plan or give assignments or work for the trainee and trainees too are not able to follow up or make concerted interventions in the field. So there should be a kind of continuous field work system, that is, block field placement.
- Most of the students are regularly practicing Social case work and social group work. Nepal is a developing country where most of the people are facing several social issues like poverty, early child marriage and dowry issues which can only be solved through community organization but institutes as well as agencies are not providing training for community organization. Thus, it is important to focus on community organization method and social action for the overall development of community and nation.
- Nepal just passed the second mass movement again monarchy and most of the Nepalese get opportunity to feel it. After the movement almost every week Nepalese citizens faces the political strikes in the name of backward, deprived and the name of community. Till now whatever movement took place that was mainly politically motivated, but not for social issues. Social work trainees are not getting opportunity to fight against social evils through Social action method which is one of the secondary methods of social work. So, there is a need of social action from social workers rather than politicians.
- Efforts must be made to provide quality guidance to social work trainees by modifying individual conference as well as group conference. At any cost individual conference should not be neglected since this provides individual attention and guidance to the trainees.
- BSW learners are satisfied with the professional guidance from field supervisor than BASW. So there is a need of improvement on the part of the BASW institutes, supervisors and coordinators with regard to professional guidance.
- Emphasis must be made to explore and provide opportunities to practice all the social work methods during field work since these are the unique practice methods of social work profession. So it is their right to practice those methods and learn those skills. The learners are getting opportunity to develop administrative skills and knowledge; but they are deprived of the opportunities to practice direct methods of social work.
- Concerted efforts must be made by social work professionals, academicians, practitioners and trainees to build the credibility of social work profession in Nepal through active involvement in locality development and human rights initiatives. The success stories of such interventions must be made known to the public through social media and mass media.
- Through associations of social work, social workers’ identity must be established without any ambiguity on who is a social worker as social workers are identified with volunteers, NGO employees and politicians. There should be the clear definition of social worker in Nepalese context. The fact that opportunities for practice of social work methods were found to be not so satisfactory and opportunities for program planning and implementation highly satisfactory, points to the danger of faulty identification of social workers as experts in organizing programs or as volunteers rather than professionals who can handle social work methods.
- Social workers are different from other volunteers and it should be proved by social work learners. Social work learners have their own plans and ideas but they have to work as organization directs them. So the institutes must enable even learners to prepare action plan along with the field supervisor and faculty supervisor. S/he should get all kinds of support and help from their supervisor. Some respondents are not clear what to do in field work. Thus, social work trainee should have clear action plan for field work.
- As the study reflects a lack of clarity on who is a social worker among social work trainees. There is a need for contextualized definition of social work which can be inclusive of practitioners who may not necessarily hold a professional degree, but have effectively intervened in social transformation.
- Social work learners themselves must have clarity about the concept of professionalism. Hence academicians must ensure that conceptual clarity among the learners about social work related terms, theories and techniques.
- Social work with its theory and practicum, itself is an imported profession in Nepal. Till now only very few literatures related to social work Nepal are available. Efforts must be made to publish materials, books, journals, research particularly on Nepal based social work methods and principles.
- Still people of Nepal are not aware of social work. Social work is always called as sociology. There is a need that social worker should make them experience that social work is a separate profession and it works differently from other disciplines and professions.
Education is a process of bringing forth the potentials within a learner, a process of discovering the powers within and to utilize them for a greater cause. An effective educational program is thus not in the banking system of information overload. It is the development of a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes as the theoretical framework of this study points towards in the introductory chapter. Social work education, as internationally practiced, does have these three components. The present study has highlighted the opportunities and challenges for social work trainees of Nepal from the perspective of development of knowledge, skill and attitude.
The study has unfolded the need for revising the syllabus, giving more emphasis on skill development of social work trainees as well as the need to explore more areas of fieldwork interventions than voluntary organizations. Creative and participatory teaching methodologies are required to bring forth the innate potentials of the learners. Social action and community organization which are the major secondary methods of social work should be practiced during field work. The educational institutions, NGOs and field and faculty supervisors should motivate social work trainees to practice these methods. There is an urgent need of formation of national association of social work in Nepal which can become a platform to work towards enhancement of credibility of social work profession. Social work institutions should organize regular orientation programs for social work learners, periodic faculty development programs, agency meets, conferences and seminars, in order to upgrade the quality of learners as well as institutions.
Social Work, with its focus on enhancing the total well being of individuals, groups and communities, is a noble profession that can contribute towards the inclusive and sustainable development of nations at the local level, which in turn can promote a just and sustainable international community. Governments and international agencies must recognise and include social work professionals in every sphere of developmental administration and human resource management and support the endeavours of voluntary organisations as well as educational institutions in moulding committed and competent change agents.
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