The major professional emphasis has been that of sociology, hence developing social work practice and framework is aimed at the proactive social workers, administrators, social development experts, social policy formulators, etc. Over the years, social work emphasis has brought into existence many social work institutions, social work/welfare consultants/counsellors and social work friendly organisations in the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Ireland, etc working tirelessly to ensure that social workers and social work organisations maximize their potential and also impact positively on social development and good governance for sustainable and visible socio-economic development but same cannot be said of Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world with over 160 million people. Social work practice has no doubt helped the developed economies achieve socio-economic resilience for many years. Individuals and organizations are investing time and funds in researches aimed at social welfare, social development, social policy, etc. However there have not been clear-cut regulations on the practice of social work in Nigeria by a very definite authority and responsibility clarification aimed at achieving the best practice in social work profession. And the absence of a virile professional body over the years has contributed chiefly to this pronounced weakness. Social work practice has no doubt helped the developed economies achieve socio-economic resilience for many years. Individuals and organizations are investing time and funds in researches aimed at social welfare, social development, social policy, etc. However there have not been clear-cut regulations on the practice of social work in Nigeria by a very definite authority and responsibility clarification aimed at achieving the best practice in social work profession. And the absence of a virile professional body over the years has contributed chiefly to this pronounced weakness.
The objectives of the Institute as approved by government of Federal Republic of Nigeria are as followings:
- To foster the knowledge and advancement in social work profession in all the six geopolitical regions of Nigeria and beyond through advocacy and publication.
- To provide information on social work issues and activities by way of publication, conference, seminars and workshops.
- To conduct research for the purpose of improving the service delivery and the general practice of social work in Nigeria.
- To liaise with similar institutions and facilitate exchange of ideas, initiatives and improve the practice of social work in Nigeria.
- To determine and review from time to time academic standard of knowledge and skills requirements for members.
- To set standard and criteria to be attained by persons interested in becoming registered member of the Institute.
- To maintain a register of members.
During the year 2008, the need to place social work practice in the forefront of socio-economic development brought about the thought and the potential impact of embracing, institutionalizing and professionalizing social work practice in the social and sustainable development process in Nigeria. The result of this effort showed that social work practice has not been effective due to the following limiting factors:
- Lack of social work consciousness.
- Inadequate orientation of workforce.
- Lack of adherence to professionalism.
- Disinterestedness of public functionaries at all levels of governance.
- Stakeholders & Disinterestedness.
- Inadequate Monitoring and Supervision of Social Workers.
- Lack of centralized data base for cost comparison
- Inadequate social work institutions of higher learning.
- Improper housing of social work programmes in the Nigerian Higher Institutions.
- Lack of general societal values.
- Lack of functional appreciation of social work and social workers.
- Inadequate professionally trained social workers.
- Lack of Code of Professional Ethics.
- And so many other factors.
Given this backdrop, the Institute of Social Work of Nigeria (ISOWN), simultaneously consultations were going on with professionals drawn from different areas of social work with the mindset and potentials for social work specializations on the need to institutionalize social work practice in Nigeria. The consensus addendum was realized in the inaugural meeting of the members of the Board of Directors of the Institute, which climaxed in the formation and establishment of the Institute of Social Work of Nigeria under CAP 59 of CAMA 1990 (as amended), approved by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Federal Ministry of Education in 2008 with Registration No……… as the only professional body in Nigeria saddled with the responsibility to carry on the objectives for which it was formed. The Institute of Social Work of Nigeria otherwise referred to as ISOWN was therefore established to fill an existing professional gap and open a new door of professionalism aimed at advancing the best practice in social work in line with both the aspiration of government and people of Nigeria and global trends.
VISION 2030 AGENDA / MASTER PLAN FOR SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE
It is important to throw more light on the Vision 2020 Agenda for Social Work Practice Master Plan that would form the bedrock of continued focus in the realization of the Vision.
- Not less than 50,000 Social Workers by year 2020.
- Position Social Work (Practice) Strategically in the Socio-Economic and Political system.
- Develop a comprehensive Social Work Mindset nationwide.
- Adequate funding of researches in advanced Social Work strategies.
- Promote Social Work studies in academic institutions.
- Eliminate corruption through Social Work Professionalism.
- Capacity development in modern and evolving Social Work Tools and Techniques.
Not less than 50,000 Social Workers by year 2020
Currently there is a decline in number of qualified social workers with the requisite training and mindset development in Nigeria. Through the effort of the Institute, a total of 3,000+ Certified Social Workers have been injected into the system since its formation in 2008. By our projection Nigeria would need not less than 50,000 Social Workers by the year 2020 given our socio-economic and environmental requirements, to be able to achieve its vision of being among the Top 20 World Best Society in 2020. This would require an average growth rate of about 4,500 Social Workers annually from 2008 – 2020.As a professional body, the Institute is capable of delivering this capacity and it has, as a matter of fact, put in place strategies that would enable it achieve this goal. The Institute has commenced an Accelerated Capacity Building through the introduction of the Professional Fast Track Membership Programme.
Positioning Social Work Strategically in the Socio-Economic and Political System
Social Work has not properly and adequately taken its rightful place in the social, economic and political life of Nigeria. Part of the reasons for this has to do with the lack of understanding of the role of Social Workers in nation building and the perceived strong stand of Social Work practice on professionalism and good social policy framework. In addition, it is the plan of the Institute to ensure the passage of its “Chartered Status Bill” and to pursue other legislation that would make social work practice an important component of the socio-economic and political frame work of government. The Institute, therefore, call on both the legislative and executive arm of government to support the quick passage of the Chartered Status Bill of the Institute.
Develop Comprehensive Social Work Mindset Nationwide
Social Work Mindset is a state of mind, an attitude that promotes social work consciousness as a way of life and having a firm belief in its importance and relevance to value creation, social development and enhancement of human dignity.
Adequate Funding of Researches in Advanced Social Work Strategies
As a result of the dynamism in the strategies available in Social Work Practice, there is the need to constantly embark on researches in order to optimize the benefits of social work. Researches would evolve new tools, techniques and strategies, which requires sufficient capital but which also needs adequate attention. The Institute shall be in the forefront in ensuring that research works are sponsored while aiming at breaking new grounds in social work practice for the benefit of the nation. The continuous support of the stakeholders who would also benefit from the result of the findings are welcomed because the Institute as a non for profit organization may not be able to single-handedly absorb cost of such researches.
Promote Social Work Studies in Academic Institutions
There is a consensus that academic institutions in Nigeria have great roles to play in capacity building effort in social work. Thanks to the trail blazing effort of Lagos State University, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, University of Jos, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, University of Ibadan and a few other universities in Nigeria, for bringing about the needed postgraduate training in this direction and commencement of academic programme in social work at undergraduate level. This is expected to spread to other universities across the nation in the interest of developing the Nigerian system. There is need for the Federal Government to direct Ministry of Education to include as a matter of compulsion the study of Social Work in secondary school curriculum.
Capacity Development in Modern and Evolving Social Work Practice Tools and Techniques
This would require constant training and retraining of Members of the Profession as well as Managers, Policy Formulators, and other stakeholders. The Institute will on a regularly basis publish its capacity building programmes for both members and the public.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MASTER PLAN
While the Master plan is the brain
child of the Institute and therefore recognize the enormous role
expected of it, the successful implementation require the collective
role to be played by government at all levels, social institutions,
social policy developers/formulators, social work professionals, social
welfare administrators, etc.
The Institute urgently call on government at all levels particularly the federal government to build the Social Work Master Plan into the National Master Plan for the realization of Vision 2020. Government should give adequate support to the Institute’s effort in order to continue its leading role in the development of social work practice in Nigeria.