2 Int'l Soc. Work 1 (1959)

handle is hein.journals/intsocwk2 and id is 1 raw text is: 





SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES IN SOCIAL WORK EDUCATION
                   AS   SEEN IN INDIA AND NORTH AMERICA

                                          Helen  R. Wright*


     The  original subject of this opening address has
the  cosmic  title of Similarities and Differences  in
Social Work   Education.  After  consultation with the
program  planners, I agreed  to prepare a paper  which
would,  in fact, deal with similarities and differences in
social work  education, but only as seen  in two  small
universes - a  continent  and  a  sub-continent, North
America  and India. This approach, while of much  more
limited scope,  does afford  an  opportunity for  more
precise examination of  specific details and will enable
us, in later discussions of similarities and differences in
other regions, to travel beyond  and behind  the broad
generalities which are so often the subject and product
of international meetings.  I have taken  an additional
liberty of limiting the discussion to selected educational
problems   and  have  not attempted  to  cover  all the
similarities and differences in the educational patterns
that have evolved in the two regions.

    The   Setting  for Social  Work Education
    Before  considering social work  education itself, a
few  facts must be examined  and kept  in mind  because
of their influence on educational problems.  Schools of
social work  in India are of  much  more  recent origin
than those  in North  America.   The  oldest School  in
India dates from  1936  but none of  the others is more
than ten years old, whereas several schools in the United
States have celebrated their fiftieth anniversary and 23
schools have  more   than 30  years' experience behind
them.    This is not to suggest that Indian Schools are
at the  stage of  development   that American   Schools
were  20 or  30 years ago, but rather that some  of the
problems  they are facing are more  like those faced in
America  in  earlier years of the Schools' history than
those of today.
   The more  recent development  of  social work educa-
tion in India has other  implications also. The  Indian
Schools, unlike  those in  America,  found  a  body  of
experience  in social work  education not  only  in the
United  States and Canada but in other countries as well
on which  they could draw  in planning their educational
program   and a body  of formulated  theory which  they
could use  in their teaching. This has both  advantages
and  disadvantages.  It means that Indian education for
social work has had to go through  all the slow develop-


mental  stages of American   education.  On  the  other
hand, it means that the theory that they found in North
America  had  grown  out of practice in another culture.
That  this theory is relevant and applicable to India I
am  convinced  as I was not  before spending two  years
here.  But  it is not  theory on  which  actual Indian
practice is based, and hence  the gap between  what  is
taught in the schools and what  is done in the agencies
is far wider than it has ever been in America. The pro-
blems that this creates can readily be imagined; some of
them  will be discussed more fully at a later point.

  Attention  should  also be given  to similarities and
differences in the settings in which social work education
is carried on.  Here  certainly the differences are far
greater than the  similarities. There is one  factor in
common,   however, which  should not  be ignored.  The
governments  in both regions are founded on  democratic
principles and in both the ideology of democracy is pre-
dominant.   The  importance of this can hardly be exag-
gerated.  It means  that social work education in these
two regions, widely separated as they are in space, differ-
ent in history, religion and culture is carried on with
certain common   values which  are in keeping with  the
values of the society of which they are a part. It means
that the education in the two regions in-vitably will be
based on  certain premises in common,  both  as to how
they expect a social work-r to feel, think and act, and as
to methods  they will use in helping students learn.

     In many  ways  the climate of opinion  in India is
more  favourable to the development of social work than
it is in either country of North America.  The  goal of
a  welfare state is openly  espoused  by all political
parties and  the terms  social work  and social worker
carry in  India a  prestige far beyond   that which  is
attached to them in North America.   It should be noted
parenthetically, however, that the  prestige in fact is
given  to the voluntary worker  but not to the  salaried
professional worker.  Even with this reservation the fact
of the prestige to the name has value.

     Neither social work nor  education for social work
can thrive on  goodwill alone.  They  need material re-
sources if they are to d-velop their potentialities, and it
is in the provision of these material resources that North
America  has many   advantages.  The  reason for this is


*Dr. Wright is Dean Emeritus of the School of Social Service Administration of the University of Chicago. In July, 1958. she completed a two-
vear assignment as Chief of Mission of a technical assistance project on ,ocial work education in India, snonsored by the Council on Social Wor'-
Education at the request of the Indian Schools of Social Work and the Government of India and the United States.

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