Relationship between Social Work Education and Field Work

Social Work Education and/Versus Field Work

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Professional Social Work Education

Social work education shapes the profession's future by teaching competent professionals, the generation of knowledge, and exercising of leadership within the professional community (Johnson et al., 2012.) Education provides knowledge, skills and practice models to enable people to cope with and maintain a balance with the environment. It emphasizes the initial preparation of the qualified social work personnel and the provision of continuing education for social work practice, administration, education, training and research within the value framework of the profession. Social work education aims to impart the integration of social work knowledge, attitudes and skills relevant to the contemporary social realities, in the historical context, and local social realities, in the national and international context (Sewpaul and Jones, 2004). It also focuses on developing critical consciousness in students through a process of crucial pedagogy to become aware of society's social ills and is motivated to alleviate them (Johnson et al., 2012). The approach used is student-centred dialogical classroom teaching-learning, self-study, supervised fieldwork and practice-based research. 


Therefore, the general purpose of fieldwork is to acquaint students with actual social work situations in preparation for professional social work practice. It is an instrument used to initiate students into the profession through inculcation and assimilation of social work ethics, principles and values. Thus, social work students on fieldwork are exposed to social work at both the micro and macro levels. Additionally, the concurrent exposure to classroom theory and fieldwork ensures that students obtain thorough professional development to the social work practice with individuals, families, groups and communities. Classroom teaching and fieldwork are equally important in social work education. However, in reality, fieldwork is marginalized compared to its academic counterpart in many training institutions. (Dhemba, 2012; D'Souza, 2012; Mallick, 2007). In social work education, integration is given prime importance though the concept of integration remains ambiguous (Mallick, 2007). The integration of theory into reality is actually a challenge at times for the students, agency supervisors, and even educators. In addition, the scarcity of indigenous literature on fieldwork has intensified the training situation in social work


Relationships between Social Work Education and Field Work

There are two aspects to modern social work education: theoretical and practical. When practical training allows social workers to apply what they've learned in school to real-life situations, they know about society, social problems, property, social structure, social values, human behaviour, and the social work process. For modern social work, functional training is essential for a social worker to solve the social problems of human beings/society. In response to this need, higher education has included a practical training course in social work in its curriculum. Students can use their theoretical knowledge to solve difficulties. In 1951, the United Nations' Social and Economic Council recognized social work as a profession and made the following resolutions.

Social work is a career that requires trained males and females to get theoretical and practical knowledge in social work degrees from established and recognized educational institutions. The academic study of society and social work leads to helpful education in social work. The only way to affect the "public good" is to apply theoretical knowledge in real-life science. Furthermore, practical training assists apprentices in becoming fully-fledged social workers by preparing them to use theoretical knowledge in a practical setting. These factors combine to make social work education and practical training mutually dependent. As a result, we might say that social work education and fieldwork are like two intertwined branches of a tree.


Fieldwork in Social Work Education: Best Practices

The best practice is a technique or methodology that has evolved through experience and research. 

  1. Development through Live-Labs
  2. Public-Private collaboration
  3. Know Your Neighborhood' programme
  4. Organizational observational visits
  5. Social sensitization camp
  6. Annual conference/seminar (Dyuti)
  7. International placement opportunity

Sunirose, I. P. (2013). Fieldwork in Social Work Education: Challenges, Issues and Best Practices. Rajagiri Journal of Social Development5(1).

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