What is Social Work? How do Social Workers engage with society? Can I study to become a professional Social Worker? I thought Social Work was all about part-time, charity, after-hours, volunteer, unpaid, community service type work.
Social Workers across the globe hear these questions and ideas and others like them each day. In Cambodia, where the social service workforce is still developing, there is a lack of awareness about social work, its values, its principles and the knowledge, skills and tasks that social workers can provide to members of society who cannot manage without support.
There is a powerful need for many more well-trained and well supported social workers in Cambodia. Recently, Social Services of Cambodia reached out to high school students with support from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY), aiming to build their understanding of social work and in the process, allowing them to engage with the idea of pursuing a career as a Social Worker. The months of June/July 2017 saw the kickoff of Who Cares? Social Workers! An FCF TSG 2 series of information sessions with high school students from selected schools in Battambang and Phnom Penh.
A combined turnout of 530 students was achieved with 58% of the attendees being female. Students were encouraged to participate by completing Pre/Post session surveys, watching a video about social work and by engaging with the Social Workers who were facilitating the sessions.
Post survey results revealed a large increase in the percentage of students able to answer correctly, What is the definition of Social Work, especially after comparing these numbers against the same question asked in the pre-survey. It was encouraging to see an improvement in the accurate understanding of Social Work in students through these activities.
Many students had questions and time did not permit answering all of them, so follow-up has been initiated in the form of Facebook posts. Questions asked by the students are posted online with answers following a numbered Q&A sequence.
Students expressed great interest in attending similar information sessions in the future as many were satisfied with the new knowledge they gained. Equally interesting was the point that many students’ opinion of Social Work improved. They indicated a desire to further study Social Work. The differences between charity, volunteer work and social work were effectively unpacked.
“I want to study Social Work because it can help people find solutions and it is a job that can make myself and others happy. The most important thing is that Social Work can help develop and change our society,” said a Cbar Ompov High School student, aged 17.
As Who Cares? Social Workers! continues to gain traction. And with funding from the Global Alliance for Children we are excited to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation for Social Workers and the role they play in contributing to society! The next campaigns will be with relevant officials from several ministries, civil society organizations and the public.