Following the 2004 tsunami, and at a time of rapid social and political change, the Maldives embarked on a program to establish child, family and community support services throughout the country. This chapter describes how an education program in social service work was established to prepare graduates to undertake this new area of work. The education program is envisaged by the Maldivian stakeholders as part of a longer term plan to establish social work as a profession in the Maldives. The author led a team of social work academics from the University of Newcastle, Australia, to work as partners with the Maldives government and UNICEF to develop a course curriculum. The chapter is thus written from the perspective of an "involved outsider". Maldivian ownership and control remained a central principle for establishing the education program and for developing social services. Challenges encountered in preparing and implementing the curriculum are examined in the chapter. These challenges included negotiating the priorities of the different stakeholders, balancing local and international input, addressing resources for sustainability and ensuring a critical response to the tendency for social work education to assume western values and perspectives. A capacity building approach was used as the underlying framework to guide the project. An Experience-Based Learning model was adapted in preparing the curriculum for the Maldives context. This pedagogical approach was found to be a useful one for a curriculum that is designed to be implemented in another cultural context. The Experience-Based Learning model places particular importance on the experiences and values of the student as the starting point for learning and hence it is less likely to assume western ways of thinking. Findings from an evaluation of the course are presented in the chapter, with attention paid to challenges and directions for the future of social work education in the Maldives in line with the principles of quality, sustainability and promotion of Maldivian models of practice. The ideas and experiences of the Maldivian people involved with the course (students, graduates, College staff, Ministry staff, UNICEF) are presented in the chapter through direct quotes gathered from people who participated in the evaluation process.
Social Work Education in Countries of the East: Issues and Challenges p. 1-32
Social Justice, Equality and Empowerment Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World