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    SOCIAL WORK IN PAKISTAN……….By: Sumair Abbas



    Social work is an academic discipline and profession that concern itself with individuals, families, groups, and communities in an effort to enhance social functioning and overall well-being. A Social Worker provides psycho-social services and support, counseling to children and adolescence in Social welfare agencies. Social Workers review the government policies and help government develop social welfare policies.


    Social workers work in the department of Zakat, Ushr, Social Welfare, Special Education & Women Empowerment, and different national and international NGOs. Social workers in these institutions  address issues related to child abuse, drug abuse, special children education and rehabilitation of physically and mentally impaired persons. These professionals in government organizations mostly work in crisis intervention while in NGOs they work in preventive measures also.


    Social Work and Pakistan has long standing history. Just after getting independence, the nascent state found itself in the middle of social problems. To combat them, the government asked United Nations for help. The United Nations after observation of the situation asked the government to establish professional social work training institutes to solve the effectively deal with the problems.


    Initially the government was hesitant but with time government thought about it. In 1954 the Punjab University set up Social Work Department, where certificate courses were offered. Similarly in 1956, the Karachi University started social work education. In 1975, the University of Peshawar planned a social work department with the aim to put forward trained professionals for the welfare of the people. Since then, the subject is being taught by 15 universities around the country.


    According to renowned French scholar Auguste Comte, the world, societies, minds as well as subjects go through three stages of maturity, Theological, Metaphysical and Positive.

    In Theological stage, religious explanation of any topic gets accepted. Men do not question any phenomena because it is spiritual in nature. For example: Quran condemns consuming Alcohol. We accept it as it is and do not question.

    In Metaphysical Stage on the other hand, we try to observe facts and figures related to any event and bring them into writings. This is information gathering and composition stage where discussions about different topics take place. For example: The French revolution resulted in the emergence of sociology.

    Finally, the Positive Stage  tests the explanation and knowledge of Theological and Metaphysical stages through observation and experimentation. If Islam condemns consuming Alcohol, we try to observe the ill effects of Alcohol. Through observation if we find it bad for the physical and psychological health, we will accept it.  Ans if sociology was the result of French Revolution, then we will find the reasons behind it. The chaos it brought to family system and the works of the philosophers like Auguste Comte will be analyzed.


    Comparing the emergence of Social work as a subject and a profession to the thoughts of Auguste Comte we can deduce that, in theological stage of social work, steps like voluntarism, charity and helping others  considered as Social Work. It was the time when the social welfare system was religiously driven.


    The Social Work as a profession gained the Metaphysical stage in 19th and 20th century in Europe. Scholars like Jane Adams, Edward Devine wrote the early manuscript of Social Work. Books like Social Work by Edward Thomas Devine, Democracy and Social Ethics and The Newer Ideals of Peace by Jane Adams gave insight to a new subject and profession of Social Work which aimed to solve the social issues professionally.

    The western scholars took the professional social work to the Positive stage through research, debates and experimenting with different social policies designed for the wellbeing of the public.


    Social work in Pakistan in my view is stuck between the theological, metaphysical, and early positive stage.

    Theologically, many people still believe that charity and volunteering are social work and there is no need of any professionals if anyone can do it.

    The Social Work Academia has long been trying to write books, conduct research to collect information, have discussion about them through conferences. 1st international conference of social work, 1st National Virtual Conference of Social Work and many others organized by University of Peshawar are examples of it.

    Social Work in Pakistan is in early stages of positivism. We have been producing wonderful professionals for the welfare sector but their contribution for the indigenization of Social Work in Pakistan is minimal. The students of Social work are more into volunteerism than professional development.  The course taught in universities are foreign and the field work practice does not help students professionally. The inconsistent policies regarding social welfare also play their role in condemning us from achieving positive stage.


    To overcome the challenges, we must work for the indigenization of social work in Pakistan. The course should focus on the social problems of Pakistan. Secondly, the academia should focus more on field work placements. Students placed in relevant field works accompanied by the understanding local social evils will be in better position to understand Social Work. Otherwise, the gap between Social Work theories and practice would widen day by day.

    Students of Social Work should study books like, Social Work: a profession of many faces and others to understand the basics of Social Work. Books other than course would let the students know about human psychology, social behavior, and the system of the world.

    Positive stage can not be achieved without discussion and debates. To have positive debates, students’ societies should be formed in each social work department of Pakistan. These mindful conversations would not only tip shyness in the students but observe and compare social work theories, practices, and social welfare policies.  Steps like these, would definitely take us to positive stage where we could develop our own course material, link it with the indigenous practice and perform various experiments to find the effectiveness of social services and improve them with research.




    The writer is an undergraduate Social Work student.


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