Appoint School Social worker in Schools : An Advocacy Effort (India)
National Association of Professional Social Workers in India (NAPSWI) and its mission. Established in 2005, it is the largest association of Professional Social Workers in India. The organisation is committed to advance excellence in education, training and practice of professional social work in India. With members drawn from across the country, NAPSWI aims to advance the knowledge and practice base of social work interventions that enhance quality of life and standard of living of persons, their family and environment. In India, professional social workers have been employed in various government, private, and non-government organizations (NGOs) for past many decades. For the last eight decades, we have been working on diverse issues related to different groups of population with the objective of promoting the well-being of human beings. Social work as a subject is being taught at graduate and postgraduate levels throughout the country in 526 colleges/universities and produces a large trained social service work force for many fields.
Social work is an academic discipline and profession that concerns itself with individuals, families, groups, and communities in an effort to enhance social functioning and overall well-being. A school social worker provides psycho-social services and support, counseling to children and adolescents in schools at both micro and macro levels.. School social workers are addressing students’ issues, concerns and problems on one hand and they align with peers, teachers, school, and community especially with parents on others. These professionals are not only working on crisis intervention, problem-solving, developmental needs. Besides health , mental health issues, they take care of social and emotional development and well being of the school children, school community, family-school liaisons, and program development.
Keeping the nature and scope of school social work interventions in consideration, it will be no hyperbole to put on record that the professional social work is well equipped with innovative strategies, knowledge and skill base for interventions with the lives of school-going children (6-14 years). We appreciate that the Government and NGO’s efforts have increased enrolment, decreased drop-out rates, and also improved the quality of education imparted at school level up to an extent. While on one hand government policies and initiatives have improved access to education and its quality, it goes without saying that the environment in which the school-age children (6-14 years) are growing-up has witnessed a drastic change in the last few decades. Globalization and its impacts on the society have exposed children and families both, to newer threats at school. A content analysis of media reports on schools and school children in the last few years reveals a sharp increase in the number of cases of child abuse, stress and anxiety related disorders, violence, and even suicide among these children. Interestingly, these changes are not restricted to only urban spaces but have also been reported from rural areas. Information and Telecommunication (IT) revolution has made the situation even grimmer. The weakening of the traditional family system which was a major support system for these children has further has exacerbated the situation by increasing their vulnerabilities and reducing their ability to cope with the stressors.
Our important policy documents on education including the National Curriculum Framework (NCF, 2005) and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA, 2012) have laid emphasis on guidance and counseling at the school level. It is noteworthy that in the context of Indian school education ‘guidance and counseling’ has remained restricted to employment counseling. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT, 2015) in its guidelines has also stressed upon the need to address the problems/crises faced by students ‘in their academic, social, emotional and personal lives’. It mentions that such interventions should be ‘based on the expressed needs, concerns of the students as well as aligned to the needs and demands of the students’ immediate socio-economic and political environment’.
Further, the proposed Draft New Education Policy 2019, argues for hiring school social workers in the context of urban poor. It commits the introduction of counsellors and social workers into the schooling system (chapter 2 , page 58); Adequate numbers of social workers will be appointed to the school complexes depending on the student population and the population of adult learners in that geography(P7.2.3, page 162); School and school complex counsellors and social workers will be trained to confidentially advise parents and teachers on adolescent problems faced by growing boys and girls(P8.6.7,page 197) and the Draft Policy puts emphasis on role of social workers. The following paragraph of the policy is copied as under for your reference:
P6.6.2. Role of social workers and counsellors: Research studies show that visits from and associations with social workers form the most effective intervention in encouraging children from urban poor families to go to school. The new and existing schools that will enhance access for children in urban poor areas, as perP6.6.1, will also invest in hiring excellent social workers and counsellors. The social workers will: work to find children and parents in urban poor areas; explain to them the value of school; connect parents and children with schools, teachers, remedial instructors, and tutors; plan with them methods (such as walking groups) and routes for children to reach school safely; inform parents of children’s learning outcomes and help them to be involved in their children’s learning (including arranging parent-teacher conferences as necessary); help children maintain connections with their parents’ languages and culture; help keep children away from harmful activities; and, along with counselors, generally be a source of support and advice to children and their families throughout the learning process as needed. (p 152).
In light of the above and available researches, the need for school social workers in schools is undisputedly accepted in favour of the children, families, school, and society. The Professional social workers as School Social Workers are and will be an effective institution of preventing student related problems and promoting most student related issues in the schools. Trained with methods of working with individuals, groups and communities; professional social workers (PSW) will be an integral link between school, home, and community and will ensure students achieve academic success with lesser stress and strains. Their work will be encompassed in improvement in attendance; reduce bullying, personal and emotional crisis; responding to day to day stress, exam pressure, frustration, and suicidal tendencies; addressing behavioural problems and relational issues; prevention of child abuse and neglect; arresting increasing violence, and many other intertwined issues. These PSWs will inculcate family values, cater to the needs of special populations, students with disabilities, career guidance, crisis interventions, parents counselling, and many other issues that may impede or inhibit students’ academic success and overall personality growth.
Through this campaign, we at NAPSWI wish to inform, educate and engage all possible stakeholders for advocating the appointment of School Social Workers in Schools and urge upon State/Central government and other bodies for initiating the process of appointment of the School Social Workers in all schools.
To Understand School social work as a field of Social work practice
To initiate advocacy efforts for seeking appointment of School of Social workers in schools and campaign designs
To engage social work fraternity in achieving campaign goals