To equip participants with knowledge, skills and insights required to be efficient social work professionals, the first certificate course on social work completed in Thimphu yesterday.

The certificate course is one of the activities Samtse College of Education (SCE) is conducting to initiate a bachelors degree programme in social work next year.

Based on the philosophical idea of right view, right contemplation or understanding and right action leading to right fruition, the course aims to infuse the wisdom of the act of beneficence and generosity in the knowledge, skills and values of social work professionals.

About 20 individuals from Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and government offices and educators received certificates yesterday.

The second cohort comprising of about 20 participants will also undergo the second part of training in January next year. The training is provided in two phases with each phase running five days.

Training I entails contents drawn from four broad areas of social work education such as foundational knowledge, methods in social work, communication and interpersonal skills for social work, and specialised disciplines regarding social work.

Training II includes sessions on developing Bodichitta mind, self-care and stress management in social work, communication for development, social work and financial sustainability, project cycle management and participatory planning and development.

Programme coordinator Ganeshman Gurung (PhD) from SCE said that between the two trainings provided to participants, they are assigned small projects to bring about a social change in their work settings. “Along the way, we have received criticisms, but the programme is an attempt at doing something different.”

He said that graduates ought to be guided by value of generosity without expecting anything in return.

It was also learnt that there are plans on conducting the first international conference of social work education in the country next year.

UNICEF’s representative, Rudolf Schwenk, said UNICEF has worked with SCE since 2016 to develop a social work programme. “I have noted with pleasure that ‘service for others’ is one of Bhutanese society’s most profound cultural component. This positivity influences social relationships, the values of help and reciprocity, community vitality, sustainable wellbeing and happiness.”

He said that despite social workers’ best intentions, most lack the required professional knowledge and skills.

According to UNICEF’s social service workforce review 2017, it was learnt that for every 1,000 children in the country, there is only one social worker.

A participant Meenakshi Rai (PhD), said that the course should have started a long time ago. “We learnt the real meaning of social work that is improving the quality of life only through the course.”

She said that after the training, she is aware of the components of social work.

“Through this course, non-CSO participants also learned about the existence and significance of CSOs in the country.”

SCE and UNICEF organised the programme yesterday.

Rinchen Zangmo