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10 Int'l Soc. Work 1 (1967)

handle is hein.journals/intsocwk10 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Congress of Schools of
  Social  Work, Washington, D.C., August 31-September 3, 1966


                            Yohannes  Wolde  Gerima*

A   T the outset, I should like to thank the Executive
     Board  and  the  Programme   Committee  of  the
International Association of Schools of Social Work
for giving me the honour and  privilege of addressing
this Congress.  By inviting me to give  the opening
address  to such a great and  historic Congress, you
have put me in a situation which gives rise to a feeling
of honour  and a  sense of humility at the same time.
I feel greatly honoured  when  I consider that I am
the first Ethiopian, indeed the first African, to deliver
an  opening address to a congress of this historic and
worldwide  Association  of Schools of  Social Work.
I also find myself engulfed  by  a sense of  humility
when  I realize that I am addressing an assembly  of
prominent   educators, writers, and  practitioners in
the field of social welfare, many of you with working
experience  as long as my own  life. In view of these
two  different but simultaneous feelings, I ought to be
on  guard  that the former feeling does  not go  too
much   to my  head  or the latter undermine my  self-


   In discussing the social  responsibility and con-
 temporary roles of the social work profession, one
 cannot help  asking: Where? In what part of the
 world?  And  at  what stage  of socio-economic  and
 political development? This adds  up  to a  colossal
 question, and the answer  could be  equally colossal.
 One  would  be expected  to answer  it by discussing
 social responsibility and the role of social work in
 all parts of the world  with respect to  all systems
 and  stages of socio-economic and  political structure
 and  development.   I did not and could  not venture
 to treat the subject globally. Rather I have attempt-
 ed to consider the topic with respect to only a sector
 of the globe.   What  I am  trying to tell you in so
 many  words  is that the purpose  and  scope  of my
 paper  are limited to the discussion of social respon-
 sibility and the contemporary role of social work in
 the continent of Africa. I agree that it is a bit unfair
 to you that the opening address to such a worldwide

congress should cover only one continent.  To arrive
at such  a decision was  not  an easy  task for me.
However,  even  with my  limited experience in  such
matters, I have  learned that the  cleverest way  of
getting out of such a situation and thus clearing one's
own  conscience is to read between the lines of your
terms of reference and  use any convenient idea you
can get, however inadvertently it had been expressed
or implied by the author.  In their letter inviting me
to give  this opening address, the Chairman   of the
Programme Committee and the Secretary of the
Association have stated the following:

   You can  bring to the Congress an informed  view
of  the needs,  pressures and  demands   in the new
Africa  for social change  and   the implications of
these for the training and deployment  of social wel-
fare  personnel.
   In the preparation of this paper, I have tried my
 best to follow the above terms of reference, and  if
 I have violated the instructions at all, it cannot be
 in doing more  but in doing  less than the terms of
 reference imply.  You will agree, I hope, that even
 the continent of Africa is too vast  to be  covered
 adequately in a paper of this nature. I would, there-
 fore, ask your indulgence as I briefly describe some
 of the  social changes  in  Africa within  the past
 15 years and  as I indicate the implications of these
 social changes for social work with respect to social
 policy and social planning, as well as for social work
 education.  This will, I hope, open a way  to a dis-
 cussion of the role of  social work education, with
 particular reference to the need for a new outlook.
    Before I ask you  to start your journey to Africa
 with me,  however,  I am  sure you  would  want  me
 to identify the main components   of the subject for
 this meeting.  My assignment as you  know is entitled
 Social  Responsibility and Contemporary   Roles  of
 the Social Work   Profession. The  meaning  of this
 topic becomes clearer when it is viewed as an integral
 part of the theme  of the Congress, which is Educa-
 tion for the  Fulfilment of Social Responsibility and

* Mr. Gerima is Assistant Mayor of Addis Ababa, and former Chairman of the National Council of Social Welfare, Ethiopia.

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