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UNICEF Calls for Strengthening of Social Work Curriculum in Tertiary Institutions

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has called for the strengthening of social work curriculum in tertiary institutions to impact on the functionality of social work in Nigeria.

Ms Maryam Enyiazu,  Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, said this in Enugu on Wednesday at a two-day Media Dialogue on Social Work Professionalisation Bill.

Enyiazu noted that over the years, UNICEF had engaged in supporting education programmes for curriculum development, which would assist in strengthening social workforce in the country.

She also said the organisation had been supporting the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for the award of degree programme in social work, to reflect the trend in social welfare workforce.

She said that there were lots of challenges militating social workforce, adding that in addressing the gaps, there was need to put in place social welfare workforce to address the problems.

Enyiazu noted that the social welfare workforce if strengthened would better protect children and as well achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Looking at the SDGs that we have, there is clear indication that we need a robust social welfare workforce to drive the process of reducing poverty, increasing access to education and access to good health care system.

“Social workers have a huge role to play in ensuring that the goals are achieved. UNICEF has supported Federal Government to develop a national plan of action on Social welfare work force.

” So we need to collectively support to ensure that social welfare is strengthened enough to deliver this services,” she said.

Enyiazu who gave an overview of challenges bedeviling the system, noted that to address the huge gaps identified, stakeholders must come out clean to take an assessment to identify human resource gaps.

She added that Nigeria needed strong, regulated and standardised work force in the field of social welfare to thoroughly tackle social problems and prevent the huge loss to violence against children and the vulnerable.

According to her, Nigeria is yet to understand the need for social welfare workers, social welfare sector struggles to attract pay and retain qualified workforce.

The UNICEF expert stressed that social welfare workforce was critical to achieving the 17 target areas of Sustainable Development Goals.

Enyiazu added that a major way to seek legitimacy and raise status of social work as a profession in Nigeria was through the establishment of regulatory mechanism to ensure license, certification and registration.

Also, Prof. Alamveabee Idyorough, Department of Sociology and Social work, Federal University, Lafia, said social workers were important people in the society as they help solve social problems.

Idyorough noted that the existence of social workers in the society would bring about social development both at individual and national levels.

He emphasised that over the years, curriculum had been provided for schools who offer specialised courses in social work, to enable specialised knowledge to be transmitted from one generation to the other.

According to him, anybody interested in the profession is subject to that specialised knowledge and after acquiring the knowledge, they present themselves to a central body.

“That is why we are appealing that when the president receives a copy of the document, he should make haste in assenting to the bill.

“This is because the bill will provide the regulatory body concerned with registering new members into the profession and by so doing the workforce will increase and help take care of the need of the vulnerable in our society,” he said.

He added that it was also important in ensuring that the code of ethics of the profession was obeyed and it would get rid of unqualified members.

He also advised institutions offering such courses to follow the curriculum to meet the standards for all facilities required for the teaching of the courses.

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