I express my gratitude to the organizers of the 26th Annual National Conference of the Professional Social Workers for inviting me to participate in the conference at Mangaluru, 2008. I have come here, in spite of my failing health, with a definite purpose of placing before you certain of my thoughts and plans for maintaining highest possible standards of imparting professional social work education and guiding social work practitioners in various fields. I may sound to be parochial in my proposal as I confine in my talk to the pressing issues concerning Karnataka. I am, of course, discussing the issues not unrelated to the theme of the conference , namely, `Challenges for Social Work Education and Practice : the Changing Social Scenario'.
The problems and the challenges :
I consider that the following are the major challenges faced in Karnataka, and I feel these could be almost the same in other parts of our country :
1) Mushrooming of Departments / Schools of Social Work with no or insufficient infra-structural facilities and with not qualified faculty (till the end of the 20th century there were only four University departments and only one private school of social work affiliated to a University and there are now more than 70 schools of social work imparting professional education at graduate as also at post-graduate level in Karnataka).
2) A stiff competition from the MBAs, Home Science, Law and other Social Science graduates even where only the trained social workers are required to be employed.
3) The social work educators, the social work students as also the trained social workers in the field are either not organised or ill-organised.
4) Lack of production of social work literature based on original researchs on theory, social policy, etc., particularly in the regional languages. There are no social work dictionaries and encyclopedias in Kannada ( And it is the same situation with other Indian languages, I feel .)
5) No suitable field work agencies are available in required number, and the trainees do not have, by and large, supervised field work facilities.
6) The training institutions do not have extension services needed for promoting professionalism.
I am sure you agree with me that there is a need to devise suitable strategies to meet these challenges squarely. I am therefore placing before you a proposal with a request to ponder over it seriously and to take appropriate resolve and necessary step in that direction. And I specially appeal to the social work teachers, the students of social work and the social workers in Karnataka to take keen interest in the matter.
KASWE- ( Karnataka Association of Social Work Education )**
Karnataka has right now at least 70 schools of social work including the post graduate Departments under the Universities. All the teachers need to form an association called Karnataka Association of Social Work Education ( KASWE) by becoming the members of the Association.
The following could be the functions of the Association :
1) The Association may devide the state into certain zones and allot the zones to the schools for undertaking surveys and researches in the allotted zones on social problems, resources, development programmes taken up by both the government and the voluntary organizations to prepare status reports to be shared with the other schools.
2) Biannual seminars on Karnataka Social Work situation in different places, namely, Bengaluru, Belagavi, Bijapura, Davanagere, Dharwada, Glubarga ( Kalburgi ), Mangaluru, Mysuru, Shivamogga as also, if possible, in the headquarters of the post-graduate centers of Universities, to deliberate on conditions prevalent in Karnataka in general and on the conditions prevalent in the zone where the seminar is being held in particular. The seminar may discuss the developmental programmes based on the research data collected by the schools.
3) Undertake sponsored policy and exploratory as also experimental researches, and prepare policy-statements related to major social work areas. The policy-statements are to be submitted to the Karnataka Government for necessary action, and take up the follow-up action to assess the action taken up by the Govt. ( Even when we fully-well know that the social work educators and social workers have no role to play in formulating policies and designing development plans we have to do something in this area )
4) Bring out a periodical News-Bulletin and a Research Journal both in Kannada and English languages to keep the social work teachers, students, workers, administrators, policy-makers and general public informed about the developments in social work situation in Karnataka and to provide a forum for social work researchers to share their findings through the Journal.
5) KASWE may set up a Vigilance Committee and divide it into certain subcommittees to do the following concerning the schools of social work in Karnataka :
ii) Conditions related to the infrastructural facilities of the training institutions
iii) Field practice- both concurrent and block placement, and relationship with the field work agencies;
iv) Camps, educational tours
v) Teaching and other personnel-qualification, service condition, etc., ; vi) Extramural (Extension) services such as development and counseling centers;
vii) Placement or employment guidance to the trained workers;
viii) Maintaining public relations
ix) Research and publication;
x) Relation with the University Administration, State and Central Governments, UGC, ICSSR, CAPART, and such other bodies;
xi) Problems faced by trained
social workers in their fields;
xii) Any other matters related to social work education and practice.
I may sound too idealistic in presenting this proposal. But I feel strongly that there is a need to ponder over this proposal. I learn that Maharashtra Social Work Educators have been carrying on activities related to certain of the areas I have placed with a view to strengthening social work profession in that state.
For your kind information, I mooted this strategy in the 80's itself and had discussion with Dr.Olinda Pereria ( who was then principal of Roshini Nilay School of Social Service, Mangaluru) and requested her to take up the leadership to give an appropriate shape to KASWE. She showed some interest in the proposal but due to our `legendary' apathy we could not take positive steps in the matter. When I had discussion with her there were only four University, departments and one private school of social work where (i.e.,Mangaluru) we are holding this Conference. Now it is time for us to act.
I once again thank all of you for giving me the opportunity to place this proposal for your serious consideration and follow-up action.
Rtd. Prof. Deptt of Social Work, Bangalore University
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