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Story Highlights

  • The Minister noted that the relationship between the profession of social work and social activists needs to be explored.
  • He issued a challenge to the UWI Social Work Department to provide modules, research material and interaction for those principals.
  • He also asked the Department to create serviceable partnership with the National Parenting Commission.

Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is expressing support for the placement of social workers in the local school system.

He was responding to a recent call by the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) for the involvement of social workers in schools. The Education Minister said the appeal is to be supported. “It is not to take away work from anybody. It is to fill a distinct professional gap that exists,” he stated.

The Minister was addressing the launch of a special issue of the Caribbean Journal of Social Work entitled, ‘Social Work & Development: Caribbean Insights’, on October 23 at the Undercroft, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus.

He endorsed the journal, produced by the UWI Social Work Department, stating that it “helps to create a solid base for reflection and for action.”

The Minister noted that the relationship between the profession of social work and social activists needs to be explored, defined and deepened in relation to the education process as an urgent priority.

He issued a challenge to the UWI Social Work Department to provide modules, research material and interaction for those principals, who are now in training, so that they can have better schools and a better understanding of the principles involved in social work.

He also asked the Department to create serviceable partnership with the National Parenting Commission. “We need your help. The help of persons with your skills, your input, regarding the revision of the education code developed two generations ago, which provides disciplinary and other procedures, which are completely inadequate to face the current realities of our time. Get ready,” he stated.

Rev. Thwaites also invited reflections on the education process in subsequent journals, asking for solutions and suggestions and not carping criticisms. “We want the practical suggestions, affordable therapies. That is what your unit is for, that is what this university is for if it wishes to continue receiving public esteem,” he said.

Head of Department, Dr. Heather Ricketts, said this issue of the journal has been published in recognition of the more than 50 years of social work education at UWI, Mona. “This is a very proud occasion for us at Mona,” she stated.

She said the publication is, in many ways, a celebration of the growth and maturity of social work education within the UWI. “The special issue shows that social work education at Mona has not just survived but has adapted in order to more effectively contribute to national and regional development,” Dr. Ricketts said.

In the meantime, Editor, Dr. Peta-Anne Baker, said the Caribbean Journal of Social Work is important as it is a vehicle for disseminating research, experience, insights, from staff and students in the social work programme and others.

“This particular publication tries to take a really critical look at what is happening in social work using the Jamaican experience, but also brings on board, some of that Caribbean experience, and so you find a mix of articles addressing some of the familiar terrain, particular terrain relating to children,” Dr. Baker said.

She noted that the authors of the individual chapters are excited about what they have produced. “Yes, they have some flaws, but we don’t think they undermine the value of the work that is presented,” she stated.

The programme included a dramatic presentation from a piece in the journal entitled: ‘Re-writing the script: The drama of HERstory and the women of SISTREN’ which showed the stark realities of many women as recorded by SISTREN.

Lecturer, Karlene Boyce-Reid, presented copies of the journal to the National Library of Jamaica and the UWI Library.