“If we want to create a new society, then India needs education more than bread”
Social Work Education in India will celebrate its Diamond Jubilee Year in 2011. When we see the social work scenario in India, social work education has to go through many dramatic changes in coming years to sustain its stability in the ethos and situation of globalization and privatization. The higher education system is still unable to reflect the specific needs of social work education with various dilemmas faced by the profession. In this article the author discuss the needs, challenges and reclamation of social work education identity as a higher education.
Social Work Education in India:
Social Work education in India started in the year 1936 with the establishment of Sir Dorobji Tata graduate School of Social Work, Bombay (Mumbai). Today the institution is known as Tata Institution of Social Sciences. The degree was known as post graduate diploma in Social Services Administration. In 1964 the same degree was converted into M.A. in Social Work. From slow and smooth start with diploma courses at the postgraduate level today there is complete level from Bachelor’s to the Doctoral degree courses. For twenty year education was imparted at post-graduate level only, it took 20 years to start a undergraduate and a doctorial course in social work education. Social work at B.A. Ph.D and D.Lit level was firstly started by Lucknow University. Social Work profession will celebrate its Diamond Jubilee Year in 2011 but, yet it is not recognized as a professional course by the people and by government. (B.T.Lawani and I.S.Subhedar 2006)
Social work education was designed in U.S.A. in the 19th century and was introduced in India during the 20th century. Tata Institute of social science introduced this education in Mumbai in 1936. American “Clifford Manshardt” was the founder director of this school. Initially, the course was designed for labour welfare field. It was designed as a post-graduation diploma and latter on it was developed as a post graduation course. The candidates who did this course could prove its utility in industrial field. These trained social workers could resolve the labour and industrial problems effectively and efficiently. Hence, there was heavy demand for this course. These post-graduates trained social workers were easily observed in the field; hence its demand could attract the universities and college authorities in India. They introduced this course in their respective universities and colleges, it is popularly known in the field as M.S.W. course However, in due course of time the pioneer institute i.e. Tata Institute of Social Science could change its policy and segregated the course from social work discipline and set up it as an independent discipline and designed other courses in social work discipline. Thus, different specializations in social work education have come into existence.
Need for Changes in role and responsibilities:
The concept and approaches of professional social work has undergone in the last seven decades and odd years. But Indian practice of social work has not shown any significant changes. With few exceptions social workers continue to be occupied with service delivery roles. It is distressing that even in these roles; they have failed to achieve the professional expertise, which was expected of them. As a result many other discipline and professions have been gradually displacing them from the areas that were considered specific for social work practice. The situation is not very different even in USA and UK where the roots of social work development much earlier. The urban based American model of social work education and practice in Indian situation did not promote to bring and substantial changes in the curriculum and methodology of social work education. Even after six decades the professional social work in India has yet not fully established as a full-fledged profession. Mostly it is refered as “Quasi-Profession” the reason behind that are may and varied which are well known to the social work educators and practitioners. (B.T.Lawani and I.S.Subhedar 2006), thus the crucial challenge that should be accepted by the social work educators and practitioners is to reclamation the social work profession and widen the spectrum of social work practice.
Need for changes in social work curriculum:
Education for social work in India did not start with any need based approach. The American model of social work education directly transplanted without any changes or modification as such. The irony of the situation is that even today social work education in India evidences the profound influence of American ideas. Social work curricula are largely structured on the American pattern. It still continues to dominate our thinking and colour our vision. As a result our social work education continues to remain out of context with our social realities. Any professional education assumed to have a base in its society of which Indian social work education is lacking. The American model of social work curriculum could never be matched since the problems and needs of the affluent society are totally different than the society that is developing one. The needs and the problems of the Indian society did not take into consideration by the school of social work in India. The borrowed principles, philosophy and methods of social work are more suitable to the developed and affluent countries like America. Our needs are different. Our problems are different. Poverty is our major concern. Illiteracy and ignorance, un-touchability and discrimination, ill health and un-hygiene condition, social distance and social security etc are the other concern to be incorporated in social work education curriculum. (B.T.Lawani and I.S.Subhedar 2006), thus there is urgent need for change in the social work education curriculum. Social work education curriculum should be based on the local need of the society and it should be indigenous and very much practical in nature.
Challenge to impart Exclusive and Marketable skills:
Most students enter school of social work as an immediate continuation of their education. Those joining social work course after some field involvement are too few in number it is found that a large number of students decide to receive social work education as a last option, when they fail to gain entry into their course of first or second choice. Some students do not consider social work as a career option, even after joining the social work course. In many places there is very little demand for social work course, sometimes due the over concentration of colleges are eager to admit any one for their own survival. University norms stipulating a minimum of 45 per cent marks as eligibility criteria for admission to M.S.W. course in some universities are done away with so as to ensure adequate number of students in the college. The net result as the above situation is the growing no availability of job opportunity and lack of adequate remuneration to social work professionals, which in turn, compound the lack of demand for social work courses in the most part of state. (John Menachery and Ambadas Mohite, 2001) thus social work students mostly remain in the dilemma and face many professional blockages in working areas.
Most of jobs available to trained social work are in the NGO sector, in welfare projects funded by government or private agencies. Specializations seem to hold very little meaning in the present context. For example, even those who specialized in Labour Welfare and personal management are found to work as a social worker in the NGO sector. There has been practically no effort whatsoever to adopt a human power approach to link training programs to the jobs available in the field. Under such unfortunate situation circumstances, it is presumed that majority of social work graduates are migrating to other avenues of employments like marketing, sales, clerical cadres and so on due to non availability of jobs in the social work fields. (John Menachery and Ambadas Mohite, 2001) thus there is tremendous need of reshaping the social work education system to impart quality service in very professional manner.
Governance and higher education in India:
It has been observed that policy framework is carefully planned at the level of the Planning Commission, Ministry of Human Resource Development and University Grants Commission. However, the policies are not fully implemented mostly because of faulty management of the institutions of higher education. The administrative structure of the Universities, which was devised in the pre-independence period, seems to be still continuing. The new challenges facing the system of higher education in the country cannot be met without a total overhaul of the structure of management of higher education institutions. This has become all the more necessary because of globalization, which requires talent, competence, drive, initiative and innovation at several levels. This cannot be achieved without overhauling the administrative set up of Universities/Institutions. The main recommendations of which are summarized below.
But no such developments are seen generally in the higher education system and specifically in social work education. There is also no uniqueness in sponsorship and financial support within the social work education, for example in Maharashtra most of the social work is managed by private registered societies/ trusts. In comparison, department of social work conducted by the universities are very few in number. Out of 54 school of social work 51 are managed by private registered societies, while three are run by universities as there departments. (John Menachery and Ambadas Mohite, 2001).
Expenditure on Education (2007-08 BE Revenue Account) :
Source: (Analysis of budgetary Expenditure on education 2005-2006, 2007-2008, Government of India, Ministry of Higher education New Delhi, 2008)
It is observed from the table that the States are contributing about 74.99% of the total revenue expenditure on education in the country while centre contributes about 25.01% to the education sector as a whole. The total revenue account of Rs.157319.99 crore constitutes 13.46% of the total budget of the Centre and the States for 2007-08 (19.31% for the State sector and 7.05% for the Central Sector). According to the above table it could be formulated that Government of India, ministry of Higher Education is spending crores of rupees on higher education but social work education can not get it share in it in many states for example in State like Maharashtra, most of the social work institutions receive grant-in-aid from the Department of Social Welfare of the state and the social work schools are not attached to higher education nor for technical education as a professional course. In the government rule social work provision for financial benefit of Sixth pay commission are also not applicable to the social work schools in Maharashtra and the pension benefits for senior teaching and non teaching staff.
In new era, all knowledge is interdisciplinary. Renewing, updating and reconstruction of the curriculum are essential integral part of every educational institutes and universities. Dr. Armaity Desai in her article on Development of social work education.1987, highlighted that, ‘there is a tendency to set up an institution for social work education without proper planning and facilities at great coast to standards, such institutions starts without indenting the level at which training is required’ and the type of syllabus which will meet the local needs of man power, social work professionals need to view these development in the field of social work education.
Thus based upon this introspection and mechanism of function of social work education there is need to reclamation of social work education identity. It is time to extend the horizons of social work education in India and a concrete action plan to meet the challenges of present ethos.
Mr. Mahesh Chougule
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