Who are we:
Sofia Idström, 26 years, comes from Gothenburg in Sweden. I have one bigger brother, Alex who does his PhD in chemistry, Father J.P, doctor in Chemistry, mother Ulla, social worker. I finished 12 standard in 2003 and after that I travelled India, South America, Oceania and Europe and I have been working. I started my social work studies in 2008 at MidSweden University, Östersund. I love travelling, playing and listening to music, create, and photography.
Sara Handzic, 24 years, comes from Värmland in Sweden. My family are: my boyfriend Rickard, my mother Silvia and my father Dirk, my sister Katja, her fiance Joakim and their son Alfons, my brother Kaj and his girlfriend Lisa and there are two dogs and one rabbit. I like spending my free time outdoors in the nature, photography is another interest of mine. I also like to travel, experience new cultures and get to know new people. I started my social work studies in 2008 at MidSweden University, Östersund.
1. A few words about your internship programme in India
We are staying in Bangalore for 20 weeks for a block placement as a part of our BSW, we study the sixth semester out of seven. The first two weeks we had orientation visits to different NGOs and after that we chose to have our placement at an NGO called Child Rights Trust (CRT) which is working with creating awareness about child rights in the society. We have joined their programmes but also continued visiting more NGOs to get a wider view of social work in Bangalore.
2. How is your experience in India?
In the beginning it was a big cultures shock to come here. The difference between India and Sweden is big, we had to adjust to the climate, the food, the traffic and the large amount of inhabitants in Bangalore. We have enjoyed the time here in India and we have learnt a lot about India as well as about ourselves. Being in a new country and being put in new situations is very developing for the own person, and you get to know things about yourselves you never would have if you stay inside your own comfort zone.
3. Objective of your training programme
We study an intercultural and international programme, so for our second block placement we have to go abroad to get exposure to other countries` social work, but there is also a great learning process to be in a new country and get to know and get experience. The most important thing is that there isn't one answer how to solve a social problem.
4. Can you compare social work education of Sweden and India? What are your observations?
In Sweden, a larger number of the social work students are female, here we have noticed it is a male dominated field, so there is a gender difference between who is choosing social work as a profession. In Sweden, we also have a larger age range among the students, there can be 19 year old as well as 50 years old who study to become a social worker. The biggest difference is that in India, most of the students only study MSW of two years. In Sweden, you have to have a bachelor degree in social work to be able to work in the field, most of the degrees are 3,5 years. When it comes to study a master in social work, it is not sufficient as it is in India.
In Sweden you also have to have a degree in social work to be able to continue to higher studies, but for work it is only required that you have a BSW.
5. Can you describe SW Education in Sweden
We have 16 universities where one is able to study social work. Until now, one could have a specialisation, like our university has International and Intercultural specialisation, but now the Institute for Higher Studies have decided that all of the social work programmes should be generalised. So today, still there is differences between the universities. For example, the practice placement can be 15 weeks + 20 weeks, 2 weeks + 15 weeks, or as you have in India, two days every week.
6. What do you like about SW Education in India
It seems very good to have the field practice along with of the theoretical studies, that the students every week get the opportunity to see the real social work and find out their field of interest as well to learn how to apply the theories from the books on the real practical work.
7. What do you don't like about SW Education in India
We feel that our 3,5 years of social work studies will not be enough for us to go into the field in Sweden, so the only thing that might be lacking in the education in India is that it is mainly at the Master level, and that it is only for two years. But of course, if the students find it sufficient with two years, then there is no problem.
8. Describe Social Workers` role in Sweden
The goal is that there should be no need for social workers in the country, the work is being done in fields were a social worker already is required, but there is also focus on the prevention, for example having councillors in schools is a way to discover a child at risk at an early stage so future problems can be prevented.
9. Tell us something about our magazine
We think you are doing a very important work with your magazine. Starting the first social work magazine in Karnataka is a great achievement and we really hope it will get great success and that people in the field realize how important it is to keep yourselves update even after the studies as well as for the social work students, since the text books often are printed some years back.
10. Tell us something about Swedish SW Magazines
The biggest social work magazine in Sweden is called Socinomen (the Social Worker) which publishes reports from different fields, new research, new information and literature. The magazine reaches to all interested in the social work; the magazine is published by the biggest social work union in Sweden. This union is also working to support all social workers who are in the union, for example at their workplace for getting the right salary, or if they lose their job support will also be given by the union.
11. Why you chose India for your internship
Sara: I always wanted to go to India, because it seemed like a very interesting and fascinating country, so it felt like the right time for me to come here and experience it for real. It is a good opportunity to see more of the real India, than when you are coming only as a tourist.
Sofia: This is my second visit to India, the first one was in 2007. It was on that trip that I decided that I wanted to study social work and that I would like to come back here some day as a professional, so I decided this would be a good place for my internship.
12. What is the Fields Work pattern in Sweden
In Sweden there is a large public sector for the social welfare which is working for individuals as well as families, both children and adults. There are various other fields where social workers are required in Sweden, in the schools there should be a counselors for the children and in the hospitals the patients need to have the possibility to meet councillor. There is also a large amount of rehabilitation homes for example people with drug and alcohol addiction, children and youth in risk zone and refugee children coming without their parents.
13. Why you chose Social Work as your career
Sara: I felt that I wanted to work with people and in the world today there are a lot of people suffering, I felt that if I can contribute with something I wanted to do that.
Sofia: I have always known that I want to work with the inequality in the world. The poverty in the world as well as poverty within a county is because of greed and selfishness, and I believe that it is possible to eradicate. I want to be a part of that. I do not want to stand on the side watching other people suffer.
14. What are the fields of Social Work in Sweden
The biggest social problems in Sweden are mental illness, narcotics, organized crime. There is a large amount of people suffering from mental illness due to stress, pressure, family situations and many other things, we have to put a lot of effort in this field, since a larger amount of young people suffer from depression. The attitude against substance abuse is quiet liberal, which mainly affects the poor people more, who might end up with an addiction they can't afford; this is also connected to the mental illness. The organized crime in Sweden is growing; there is a market for traffic goods and people, which makes it possible for them to continue their work.
15. What are the specializations in Swedish Social Work?
In Sweden the aim is that all universities should have the same programme for the students, So mainly the social work students study the classic programme which covers all the fields of social work, if you continue your studies for a master you can chose if you want to specialise or continue in the field of ”social work”.
16. What are the employment opportunities?
There are a lot of social workers going to retire the coming years, so this is the right moment to get this education. As we mention earlier there are 16 universities educating social workers, so every year a large numbers of social workers will be graduating, which makes the concurrence bigger in a small country like Sweden with only 9,5 million inhabitants.
17. Tell us something about India and Karnataka people, culture, tradition with Social Work Perspective
We have met a lot of inspiring people doing a great work with a lot of passion for people in more vulnerable position in the society. We have also experienced that people here are very helpful, for example in the beginning when we were taking the bus to different places. There is also a great hospitality here, we went to Hirakumbalagunte, a village in Bellary district and there we could really experience the great hospitality, in every house we were offered food or tea. Such a nice experience!
18. What's your future plans?
Sara: I would like to work with children and youth or within the field where nature is being used for its healing part to rehabilitate people. I have not decided yet if I will continue my studies for a master or if I will start to work when I graduate.
Sofia: Since we study an international aim, I would like to work a couple of years abroad. If I would work in Sweden I would like to work with the prevention of crime and abuse, then mainly with youths in high school.
19. Suggestions for the Social Work Students in India
Speak up for the people that no one listens to, and work with your heart. Never forget your role as a social worker, to be there for the ones in need.
Tell us something about social work trade union in Sweden
In Sweden we have one big trade union for social workers called SSR. The union operates, among other issues on education, research, skills, ethics, work environment, pay and working conditions. By the Board of Social Work authorization conduct social workers aptitude test and then they are authorized to work as social work. You can be a part of this union when you are a social work student as well as when you are working.
Editor, Samaja Karyada Hejjegalu