Social Work Education started in Nepal since 1987 by Nepal Jesuit Social Work Institute (now known as Social Work Institute). In the beginning it was Diploma in Social Work training program. St. Xavier College, then, initiated first academic program Bachelor of Social Work, affiliated to Kathmandu University in 1996. It has almost been three decades of introduction of social work in Nepal, but, still it has not been able to secure professional attributes. Larger scale networking and collaboration with all social workers and institutions is necessary to achieve this objective. Social Work Practitioners, Professional, Educators and Students must be united to address the issues. Therefore, Social Worker’s Association Nepal, SWAN had been established aiming to promote social work education through collaboration with the universities, government and social workers. With the objective of sharing current issues in social work education, related policy, practice and recognition of social workers as profession a one day sharing programme with educators, professional practitioner was organized on 18th June 2017 at Babylon National School. In the programme, discussion was focused on how we can make effective Social Worker’s networking to make better contribution in promoting social work education, relevant policy and practice to improve social service system in Nepal. Distinguished personnel representing different Social Work Institutes, colleges, lectures and students participated in the program. All together 30 persons participated in the program to discuss on challenges in the field and to find the way forward.
The program began with the welcome note from Vice President, Mr. Krishna Sundar Khaitu. He emphasized the need of unification among all social workers to work the issues related to social work education, policy and practice in an effective way.
Mr. Om Krishna Shrestha, General Secretary, SWAN has explained that all educators and social workers need to be united to make sure that our voice is heard by the government and the universities. To create greater impact, small groups and initiation from individual person can’t change, therefore, he stressed on the need of working together for observable change in society.
The participants in the programme work out in small groups and presented issues as following:
No uniformity in courses and filed practices among universities
Field practice is the key element in social work education to improve the practical skills of students, but there is no systematic placement system, supervision and guidance.
Due to lack of information system with the universities and colleges, parents and student as well as people are confused about what is social work education and what is the importance of social work education. Theoretical aspect as in other subject has been focused due to which could not acquired required knowledge and skills in social work.
People are unable to distinguish between professional social workers and social service providers.
Government and social service sectors have not recognized social workers and professionals and there is no social work related policy.
Lack of qualified human resources in education to prepared the skilled professional social workers.
Lack of coordination between social agencies and colleges due to which problems for student placement for field work practice.
No initiation from government.
Lack of standardization/ criteria for regulation of social work education and practice.
After participants analyzed the challenges in the field, the participants were taken for open floor discussion to find way forward to resolve the challenges and issues. Most of the participants mentioned that the courses should not be just for formality but should be practical base, efforts should be taken to bring uniformity in social work courses and practice and drafting of clear policy and plan. And for all of this Social Worker’s Association Nepal (SWAN) can play significant role. SWAN need lobbying with government bodies, should work for data base, participants also recommended SWAN to be visible, inclusive, transparent and accountable. As SWAN has affiliation from international body, International Federation of Social Work, all social worker must unite under common root of SWAN and it must create environment for involvement through participants. Participants also suggested SWAN to undertake responsibility and work for observable change.
Finally, Dr. Dilliram Adhikari has summarized the discussion points. He has emphasized to all participant to be united to work more effectively to promote social work education in Nepal, policy advocacy for social service system improvement to provided service to the needy people for social, economic, psychological wellbeing. Poverty, disparity, racial and gender discrimination, negligence to provide support to elderly people, disabled and people with mental problems which needs to be focused on curriculum development, policy making and implementation. Social workers need to be united in an organized ways for advocacy on the issues. Dr. Adhikari informed the participants about future programme of SWAN and also requested for solidarity and collaboration among all social work colleges, universities, social workers and social service providing organizations. Dr Adhikari has announced that all graduated social workers, practitioners, educators, institution who are providing social work education should come together in to the one platform and work in close collaboration. SWAN is a common platform for all and welcomes to join with to achieve greater objective of social work profession promotion and recognition.