International Social Work: Linkage between social work education and practice in Scotland and Nigeria
Social work as a profession has become internationally recognized after the emergence of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and International Council for Social Welfare (ICSW) with exchanges of curricula, staff, students and transfer of practices across borders (Dominelli, L. 2014). This impeccable transfers and adaptations of practices have had outstanding results globally with a notable example being the creation of the Hull House for poor people in Chicago by Jane Addams and the use of theories by social work scholars in teaching students as well as in social work practice.
Although these have given platforms for students to study social work in different countries, there could be seen to have come with its problems. As highlighted by Warren (1939), it is of importance to apply casework techniques to issues of people whose social changes require agreeable activity in at least two countries. If an effort to promote international social work is to succeed, they must be included in an unequivocal foundation of information that elucidates this aspect of social work awareness.
This literature is a rst attempt to review existing information on international social work with thoroughness applied in distinguishing what is known, and what isnt, about this subject. More explicitly, this literature has tried to examine existing articles and books on international social work and linking it to how important it is to explore and develop greater understanding and connections of how social work is taught in schools and also practiced in other countries. Also, the review will focus on social work students and lecturers in the University of Dundee and the University of Nigeria and analyzed literature relating to their ability to take part in the survey to understand the connections between social work education and practice in Scotland and Nigeria.
Denitions of international social work, its global agenda and global standards for social work education, support the possibility that every social worker or social work educator ought to participate in activities planned for influencing a broader view and understanding in different ways that other countries practice social work in other to inculcate a curriculum that takes into account a wider range of cultures to ensure that individual human rights are upheld.
To begin with, I sought to understand the term international social work. From this, I found different writings by different authors on the meaning of this term. An outstanding definition found was by Healy, L M. (2008) in her book, International Social Work: Professional Action in an Interdependent Action. This book highlighted the different debates surrounding the definition of the term international social work in over 70 years. However, the author captures her definition well as international professional action and the capacity for international action by the social work profession and its members. Further to this, Healy in her book outlined four dimensions for a successful international action: internationally related domestic practice and advocacy, professional exchange, international practice, and international policy development and advocacy.
She explained the first dimension as social work competence in internationally related parts of domestic social work practice and expert advocacy. This is because social workers are progressively approached to manage issues that have a universal measurement, implying that at least two countries are engaged in some way in the situation or policy issue. The second dimension is a professional exchange where there is the ability to exchange social work data and experiences globally and to utilize the learning and experience to improve social work practice and social welfare approach in respective countries. This incorporates a scope of activities, for example, perusing remote periodicals and books in ones field, comparing with experts in different nations or facilitating guests, taking an interest in expert between change at universal gatherings, and distinguishing and adjusting social welfare developments in different countries to ones setting. The author shows that the capacity to transfer international human service advancements to ones very own setting initially requiring the learning of in different countries.
The third dimension she proposed was International Practice. She explained this as the preparation of some professional social workers to contribute straightforwardly to international development work through employment or humanitarian effort in international development agencies. Finally, she explains the last dimension as International policy development and advocacy. Here, she wrote that, the capacity of the social work profession as a worldwide movement to formulate and promulgate positions on significant social issues and make a contribution to the solution of important global problems related to its sphere of expertise:
Although this seems to be a concrete definition to the term, it seemed to lack the necessary components that could be linked to the research topic, International Social Work: Linkage between social education and practice in Scotland and Nigeria. Further researching, I found the understanding given by Cox and Pawar (2006) on international social work as relative to the research. The authors explained international social work as
..the advancement of social work education and practice comprehensively and locally, to build a genuinely incorporated international profession that reflects social works ability to react suitably and effectively, in education and practice terms, to the different worldwide difficulties that are significantly affecting the prosperity of huge areas of the total populace. This worldwide and neighborhood advancement of social work education and practice depends on coordinated points of view approach that integrates worldwide, human rights, natural, and social improvement viewpoints of global circumstances and reactions to them.
With this definition, the need to understand international social work from an academic perspective seemed feasible. This could be seen as the pathway in rediscovering how to assist each other (countries) as migration seems to have now become a part of our everyday culture. Furthermore, the present problems faced by countries cannot be solved independently but collectively. For example, probably a decade ago, Scotland was a pre-dominated country with the mass being white. This meant that social workers at that time could understand the culture and how to work with their service users. However, in the present state, there are Asians, Africans and a mass number of different continents resident here. This means the issues social workers will be facing now would be very complex and dynamic as the culture of the service users has to be taken into view. The understanding of service users culture can be very fundamental in the helping process of the individuals problem. Additionally, have enabled students from different parts of the world to study social work in Scotland. Although this of high importance, it is essential to understand what the lessons learned from Scotland would mean for the students in their respective country. All these and many other reasons meant there was the need to explore and develop greater understanding and connections between social work education and practice in Scotland and Nigeria.
In a research article called Dilemmas of international social work: paradoxical processes in indigenization, universalism, and imperialism by Gray, M. (2005), the author explained that the of social work according to her, raises the specter of westernization and imperialism in its practices. The development of the former has led to three thronged dilemmas arising indigenization, universalism, and imperialism. In this paper, the author attempted to explore the debate on the surrounding dilemmas and promote a better understanding of the divergent views on these dilemmas.
As proposed by the researcher, indigenization borders around culture. It can be viewed as cross-cultural practices where theories, values, and philosophy are influenced by a local factor (Osei-Hwedie, 2001; Allegritti & Gray,2003; Gray & Allegritti, 2002). The argument remains that social work is context-bound but may vary in various regions and history. On the other hand, universalization allows elements to transcend national boundaries such that there are commonalities in practice and theories across divergent context (Gray and Fook, 2004). They further opined that universalization is a ground-up collaboration process that can be used to fight a common cause. Imperialization, however, relates to finding a balance between importing social work knowledge/methods and indigenous structures for organizing social work principles (Tsang and Yang, 2001). Following the review of literature on understanding the central role played by culture in the dilemmas debate, the author resolves that the way culture is viewed affects the interpretation of universalizing trend in social work. Therefore, this study assumes the standpoint that international social work is the development of practices that are relevant in a local context, intending to change local unjust practices and not westernization. Also, international social work is the use of universal trends as guides to create diversity across regions. It can be viewed can be a flexible entity by being open to new forms of social works based on local problems. The engagement of local social work in the international sphere boosts the recognition of local agendas. The study concludes that for the uptake of international social work especially in the Chinese context, there is the need to modify the expert knowledge from professional education and training. This approach implies that cultural consideration enables the indigenization of social work yet retaining universalization while avoiding imperialism.
From the above, the need for universalization was critical in the introduction of the project as this takes into account the importance in collaborating with lecturers and students in the University of Nigeria and those in the University of Dundee. This joint effort in the long haul seeks to address a mirage of problems in social work education and practice in both countries. As Gray, M. (2005) highlighted, the key step in understanding both concepts is to factor in culture as this can give rise to a great outcome in the research.
Similarly, Dominelli, L. (2014) in her article, Internationalising professional practices: the place of social work in the international arena emphasizes that, based on historical antecedents, social work has been active in the international sphere. Practices and strategies that link the local with the global can be referred to as internalization. However, the outcomes of internationalization can either be beneficial or exploitative depending on the values of the institution practicing it (Callan 1998; Dominelli, 2000; Knight, 1997, Lyons et al.,2006). Researchers opine internationalization as dynamic and constantly evolving by creating new cultural practices which tend to undermine the local culture (Knight and de With,1995, Gray, 2005; Knight, 1997; Yang, 2002). Therefore, to examine international practices, this article explores partnership in delivering aid in Sri Lanka 2004 Tsunami. The research compares the Institutional model (IM) and Professional model (PM) involving social work students with general aid donors. Both models were chosen because external donors claim to follow empowering services that involve the locals in decision-making. The research used an ethnographic case study approach to answer the question, are some models of humanitarian aid better than others?. The data collected across 12 villages was analyzed using the Nvivo software.
The data revealed advantages and disadvantages in the aid delivery process which corroborates and challenges Hancocks (1991) assertion. Although the aid was welcomed by the locals, the study observed inequalities in distribution when done by external aid-Furthermore, the IP and PM donors were considered better integrated into village life and viewed more positively than others. Based on the findings, the researchers observed that general external aid was more problematic than that delivered by the PM and IM. The latter was described to be long term and inclusive of the local people and organization. To help address the place of social work in the international arena, the article concludes that integration of local empowering partnerships such as listening to women and children, capacity building, practicing of equality values should be done to maximize the benefits of internationalization.
Dominelli, L. (2014)s article showed that it was highly beneficial to the University of Dundee researchers to have included a lecturer from the University of Nigeria and an in the University of Dundee in the layout of the survey and the research as it helps in administering questionnaires to students in both universities easier as each countries cultural practices have been taken account and this makes it easier for students from either university to answer as it is been administered to them by a local.