Reflection on the contribution of Professional Social Work in Ghana’s Development Efforts as the World Mark/Celebrates International Social Work Day on the
Theme: “Celebrating the Social Work Profession”
Writer: Alexis Danikuu Dery-Social Worker and Senior Programme Officer- Assemblies of God, Relief and Development Services (AGREDS-Ghana)
Today (27th March 2007) is being celebrated as Professional Social Work Day. The day is set aside to highlight the noble work being done by social workers throughout the world.
As a professional activity, Social work is aimed at helping individuals, groups and communities to enhance their problem solving and coping capacities and preventing social exclusion and mal-adjustment.
Though the needs and problems requiring professional social work attention are many those that readily come to mind are : Child abuse and neglect, Behavioral deviations amongst juveniles, criminals acts by youth and adults, physical and psychological disabilities, alcoholism and drugs dependency, relationships problems within families and communities among others.
Thus, practitioners are required to be catalyst in change, have sound intellect, be highly trained and equipped with the necessary theoretical knowledge, skills and values, imbued with passion for humanity and an optimistic philosophy in life.
As distinct from other helping professions, social work has a code of ethics, a specialized knowledge, is sanctioned by the community, observed specific humanitarian values, democratic principles, has professional bodies such as the International Federation of Social Workers and the Ghana National Association of Social Workers (GASOW).
In Ghana, professional social work started in 1941 following the report of the Advisory Committee on Education in the colonies and the official establishment in 1944 of the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, the establishment of the School of Social Work in 1946 at Osu, Accra, and in meeting the complexities in the field and high demands for professionalism the transfer of the Social Administration programme from Osu to the University of Ghana in 1955 and more recently the establishment of the Department of Social Work in the University of Ghana, Legon.
In recognition of social work as a profession in the country, various social policies and status in Ghana such as the Children’s Act of 1998, persons with disability Act of 2006, the Human Trafficking Act of 2005 and the Domestic Violence Act of 2006 put a lot of demands on the profession.
Today, professional social workers are occupying various positions in various settings and establishments in the country.
Even though their work often goes unnoticed by the wider community partly because of the nature of the cases that come to their attention, yet social work is impacting on each and every one of us. In thousands of ways professional social work is helping people of every age, background, and in every corner of the country.
As we celebrate Professional Social Work, and faced with the increasing challenges and complexities arising from socio-economic and cultural dynamics within society and its implications for social work practice today, it is important for the two main training Institutions; School of Social Work Osu, and Department of Social Work, University of Ghana to take a second look at their course contents and structures. There is also the compelling need for government to resource the Department of Social Welfare the agency that has the biggest responsibility of providing professional social work services to the citizenry to enable it realize its vision and mission.
Agencies, Commence and Industries and the Mass Media must also as a matter of urgency consider employing professional social workers in their social responsibilities units in line with demands for professionalism in corporate social responsibilities services.
Practitioners of the profession must aim at holding professional standards, contribute to the promotion of best practice and ensure their own professional development.
As mentors of vulnerable groups, and communities, social workers in Ghana are turning weaknesses into strengths, threats into opportunities, and making informed, competent professional judgment.
To you all and Ghanaian Social Workers in particularly we say Ayeekoo.