A social worker is a leading profession and can become a driver of economic growth, experts of the profile alliance believe

In Kazakhstan, there is a need to expand educational opportunities for social workers and to create a pool of developed national social work practices

30 September 2021
Social Workers' Forum 2nd day

NUR-SULTAN, 30 September 2021 – In Kazakhstan, there is a need to expand educational opportunities for social workers and to create a pool of developed national social work practices, according to the participants of The III International Forum of Social Workers "Social work as a driver of socio-economic modernization in Kazakhstan: personnel policy and practice".

According to Dinara Yessimova, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Professional Social Workers of Kazakhstan, social work is a leading profession of those who have the right to influence politics and make competent decisions.

Yessimova went on to say that the main goal of the forum is to inform and support social workers in Kazakhstan, as well as to prove the need to develop their own national and regional social work practices, “which can be more sustainable than foreign ones."

"Solving the problem "here and now" means that the problem can be solved, but, in general, the situation may not change, but we want success to be permanent. An employee should not only be an assistant, but also a leader and influence quality decisions”, she shared.

In her speech, Yessimova cited the experience of other countries in improving the status of social workers and expressed her vision for the further development of the profession. In particular, she pointed out the need for the continued education of social workers.

“There is a lot of talk about the fact that we will not have institutionalized the profession of 'social worker' until we are a faculty and a department. But now that we have reached a certain level, we want to meet with the decision makers and discuss this profession that can improve the socio-economic situation in the country," she said.

The expert stressed that there is currently no consistency in the organization of social work education. At the same time, in her opinion, now all conditions have been met for the training of social workers. In Kazakhstan, 12 higher educational institutions teach this profession.

“Last year, within the framework of ongoing UNICEF projects (United Nations Children's Fund - author's note), we conducted three-week courses for universities in the country that train students in social work, for medical universities that train health workers, in colleges and so on” - Yesimova explained.

In general, she stressed that this work should be developed, and that all the prerequisites for it exist. The National Alliance of Professional Social Workers of Kazakhstan plans to form a pool of experts on social work. She is sure that the country needs a gradual "evolutionary" renewal of labor resources in the social sphere.

“Gently, so that a person chooses to change their behaviour internally” the expert explained.

The Director of the Center for the Study of Global Health in Central Asia at Columbia University, Asel Terlikbaeva, presented evidence-based practices in social work. She said that research in social work has helped not only to identify the most effective interventions, but also to assess the best ways to implement them.

“The development of new knowledge, policies and programs is often the result of research,” she stressed.

The forum participants paid special attention to the work of social educators with children. Tatiana Aderikhina, UNICEF Education Specialist in Kazakhstan, presented the results of the prevention program for absenteeism of children at school using case management technology. The initiative of the project appeared in 2018. Thus, groups of early warning systems were formed in three urban and one rural school in two regions of Kazakhstan. The specialists were faced with the task of identifying students at risk of expulsion or low academic performance at school.

“Due to the timely identification of students who are most likely to be at risk, there is not only a chance of their early inclusion, but also the provision of the most appropriate support and interventions to continue their studies at school," explained Tatiana Aderikhina.

The group was to support students to continue their studies at school/improve academic performance through a number of interventions that meet individual needs, as well as to form a school-wide approach involving a team of school staff.

Currently, such groups operate in eight schools, and appropriate work is being carried out with children from risk groups.

“This year we have summed up the results of this long-term project. The early warning system itself (EWS - author's note) is primarily aimed at identifying cases of absenteeism and responding to them. (...) Indicators on academic performance, attendance, and child involvement in the educational process were used to argue and assess the degree of risk, because they are part of the needs assessment conducted by the social worker. The task of the school team was to have good planning of actions in support of the child, to react in time, to prevent mistakes that could affect the child's future and their educational achievements,” explained Aderikhina.

Sandugash Ismagulova, an expert from Kyzylorda, spoke about the capacity of social workers in primary health care. The social worker of a city polyclinic told about her work using an example.

"The family is raising a child, 1.2 months old, the child's parents, mom - 31 years old, dad - 42 years old, live in a civil marriage. The father also has a 15-year-old son from his first marriage, all living together. The house is private, in disrepair, the rooms are very damp; it is an unsafe environment for the child. When the child was 8 months old, during a home visit, the foster sister revealed that the family was in a state of high social risk. I found out that the child's mother was intoxicated, the child himself was in an unsafe environment," Ismagulova said.

According to Ismagulova, a social worker intervened to support the family. An eco-card for the family was created and an individual family development plan was made.

"A trusting relationship was established between the family and their primary health care provider, the mother stopped drinking alcohol, the child is safe, the mother looks after the child well, spends much more time with him, plays, reads, and continues to feed the baby breast milk," the social worker explained.

After the experts' presentation, the forum participants exchanged views on the topic set at the panel session.

A reminder that the III International Forum of Social Workers "Social work as a driver of socio-economic modernization in Kazakhstan: personnel policy and practice" was held in Nur-Sultan from September 28 to 30, 2021.

About 600 specialists from the regions of Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Germany, and other countries took part in the event both online and offline.

The Forum was held within the framework of cooperation between the representative office of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Human Rights Ombudsman, The L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University (ENU) and the Alliance of Professional Social Workers of Kazakhstan with the support of the Ombudsman for Children's Rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

On the first day at the plenary session, the forum participants talked about the transformation of the profession of "Social worker" during the pandemic, and also shared their further vision of the development of this profession.

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