Home Foreign News Social Work Calibration …Liberia ‘Drinks’ From Knowledge Reservoirs of S/Africa, S/Leon, Ghana

Social Work Calibration …Liberia ‘Drinks’ From Knowledge Reservoirs of S/Africa, S/Leon, Ghana

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By: Linda Gbartie

MONROVIA: In regards to developing a national harmonized curriculum and legislation on social work, UNICEF-Liberia, in collaboration with the Government of Liberia, hosted a one-day online or Webinar Session on South-South Exchange.

The South-South Exchange was Liberia’s Social Service Workforce Strengthening Meeting with policymakers, academicians, technocrats, professionals, social work practitioners, among others.

It was also aimed at strengthening and ensuring collaborative efforts in the development of a cohesive and unified curriculum and legislation on social work in Liberia.

The event was held on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in the Kofi Annan Conference Room at the One UN House located in Sinkor, Monrovia.

The event was organized in response to the growing need for standardization of social work education, professionalization and regulation in Liberia.

The program would be carried out through a framework for license and accreditation of social workers and for Liberia to learn from particularly the Republics of Ghana and Sierra Leone on how they were able to develop their respective nationally standardized curriculums and legislations on social works.

The participants also learned from South Africa experience on the development of a license and accreditation framework.

The meeting also attracted the participation of university students from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, South Africa, and Mauritania who also shared their south-south experiences on social works in Africa.

In his opening remarks, Representative Jacob Bedell, Co-Chair on Joint Education Committee of the Legislature said, looking at the importance of the meeting, Liberia has some other challenges relating to health matters and that the country lacks clear understanding of what social works entail.

Lawmaker Bedell recalled that he ran a non-governmental organization during the past Ebola crisis in Liberia and that people were recruited from the local communities to do contact tracing, follow ups on patients, and to create public awareness on ebola, among other works that social workers do.

However, the Lawmaker said, many of the recruits were unable to effectively perform their tasks due to limited knowledge on social work.

He said, in Liberia, social work is something that needs to be elevated to a level where it will become profession or a career for people to do.

Bedell indicated that A.M.E University is one of the Universities that established curriculums on social work and they are offering bachelor degree, while it is working on a curriculum for master degree program.

He emphasized that such initiative will enhance social work nationally and decentralize it across the country.

“University in Grand Gedeh, for example, right now we have so many courses, but the courses do not make people to earn a living because the world is changing and we cannot continue to do only accounting, management, economics, we have to diversify our learning. So, I am glad that we are talking about this issue. On the part of the House of Representatives, I will champion it to my colleagues on gender and health; we are going to be discussing the issue of social work, so that when it is brought to the floor, we will have a consensus to ensure that we make it a legislation, he stressed.

According to the lawmaker, Liberia is on par with other nations as they are going to be learning from Sierra Leone, Ghana, South Africa.”

He told his fellow participants that the event is not just to sit and take note but to go back into their communities and schools and be able to categorize these things.

“We should not just take notes, we should be able to go into our communities and tell residents and citizens about the importance of these things,” he stressed.

He vowed to convey the message from the meeting to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker including his colleagues.

I will hi8ghlight the importance of the legislation and why it should be done.

Also speaking, Josephine Greaves, a representative from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection said, Liberia has achieved some of the recommendations, including developing guidelines and SOP on case management of vulnerable children, training curriculum led by the National Leadership Group (NLG) social service workforce strengthening capacity development strategic action plan.

Madam Greaves revealed that there are plans to conclude on the national standardized (harmonized) curriculum, national information management system for social workers and paraprofessionals, framework for license and accreditation of social workers to regulate the practice, and a social work legislation that will reinforce the statutory mandate of a national regulator, among others.

She told her fellow participants that the meeting is intended for them to learn best practices that will speedily move the process forward as they learn from their counterparts from Sierra Leone, Ghana and South Africa.

Madam Greaves congratulated all participants especially UNICEF Liberia for the efforts and support to ensure the process reach this level.

“As we work, let us keep one thing in mind and that is to ensure the vulnerable population especially children are supported to move from their vulnerability to fulfilling their full potential,” he said.

Additionally, Madam Greaves said in 2021, the government of Liberia and UNICEF started the discussion to support the strengthening of the social service workforce to accelerate the achievement of results for children.

As such, she added that both government of Liberia and UNICEF recognized the importance of a system approach to delivering services to children, families, and communities.

She noted that the first step to strengthening the overall child protection system in Liberia, a national leadership group was established comprising the Ministry of Gender, National Social Work Board and key social work institutions to Guide the mapping and assessment of the social service workforce which was critical to the process.

She also mentioned that the mapping and assessment reviewed the status of the social service workforce in three perspective domains, planning the workforce, developing the workforce, and supporting the workforce.

For his part, Andy Brooks from UNICEF Liberia, giving the overview of the session explained that the meeting has been organized in response to the growing need for standardization of Social Work education as well as professionalizing and regulating the social work profession in Liberia through framework for license and accreditation of social workers.

He stressed the need for Social work curriculum at bachelor degree level. He noted that Social work education combines specialized coursework with hands-on experience. Those who complete the program will acquire knowledge and skills working with individuals, families, groups, and communities, assisting them to access services, provide support, conduct advocacy, and promote social justice and human rights.

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