Social work faculty involved in Vietnam:
Attacking social problems
|(L-R) Drs. Lan Gien, Sharon Taylor and Ken Barter are involved in a project to improve the qualifications of social workers in Vietnam.
For the last five years Memorial School of Nursing has been involved in improving nursing education in Vietnam and now the university's expertise in social work will be used to help that country improve the education of social workers.
Social Work and Nursing are collaborating with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the College of Labour and Social Affairs in Hanoi, Vietnam, on a project titled Poverty Reduction by Improving Social Workers and Health.
Dr. Lan Gien, Nursing, is the project director. Dr. Ken Barter, chair in child protection in Social Work is a project director along with Dr. Sharon Taylor, Social Work. Dr. Taylor plans to spend at least the next year in Vietnam working towards establishing an accredited and government-approved School of Social Work in Hanoi.
Dr. Barter said the team visited Vietnam in August for a planning mission and found that the country's ministry of labour, invalids and social affairs (MOLISSA) has identified the importance of having well-trained and qualified people in providing social and health services in order to carry out its policy commitment to reduce poverty and social inequality, particularly in rural areas of the country.
"They are quite enthusiastic about this project and see social work as a key profession in their plans."
Dr. Taylor explained that Vietnamese teachers of social work do not have degrees in social work but rather in subjects like sociology or psychology.
"We'll be working at enhancing the qualification of lecturers. We'll also help set up a Social Work Practice Centre for group work as well as family and individual counselling."
About 15-20 Vietnamese social work faculty will be in the first group to be trained. Dr. Taylor said that in addition to workshops, Memorial's social work faculty will be teaching videotape techniques.
Eventually the plan is for some of the Vietnamese faculty to come to Memorial or other Canadian universities to earn a master's degree in social work.
Dr. Gien said her role in this project is to bridge the gap between the previous nursing project and the new social work project.
"It was the Vietnamese ministry that brought their concerns and needs to us. They know that the poverty in the country can be reduced by improving health and having better housing. They want to address social issues."
Dr. Taylor said Memorial will help the Vietnamese school to develop a curriculum that responds to their own needs.
"There will be an advisory committee both here and in Vietnam overseeing the project."
The Vietnam project is being overseen in Newfoundland by a five-member advisory committee including the minister of health and community services, the executive director of the Newfoundland Association of Social Work, Memorial's vice-president (academic) and the directors of the schools of Nursing and Social Work.