NASW Hosts Exchange Visit with the Tanzania Association of Social Workers

Dec 1, 2011

December 1, 2011

NASW is delighted to have had the honor of hosting our distinguished guests from Tanzania for the past two weeks.  NASW’s Human Rights & International Affairs Division established a twinning partnership between NASW and the Tanzania Association of Social Workers (TASWO) through funding from the American International Health Alliance.

Social workers in Tanzania and the US face many of the same challenges:  social work is often not clearly understood and frequently underappreciated; social workers’ job descriptions can be unclear or unrealistic; and supervision may not be provided by a trained social worker.  This two-week visit provided time to discuss these challenges, review initiatives incorporated into the annual work plan between NASW and TASWO, plan ways to support members, and identify methods to enhance the professional growth and development of the social work workforce.

The delegation from TASWO was comprised of Dr Leonard Mbilinyi ,TASWO’s chairperson;  Mr. Dunford Makala, the Tanzania Commissioner of Social Welfare; Mr. Enock Mbise, a member of TASWO’s executive committee, and Anna Swai, TASWO’s new Development Director (see photos below).

Over the course of their two-week visit, the group held meetings internally with many departments of NASW to discuss areas such as credentialing and continuing education, government relations, ethics review, communications, chapter services, fund raising, publications and practice standards.

External visits included meetings with the Director of the Office of National HIV/AIDS Policy at the White House, with senior staff in the office of the Commissioner of the Administration of Children, Youth and Families, with USAID, and with Howard University School of Social Work.   The delegation also met with the program’s funders, the American International Health Alliance and US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

In addition, the group traveled to New York City to meet with NASW leaders from the New York City chapter, with faculty at New York University and Fordham University, and with UNICEF.  The group also recorded a radio interview at UN Radio.

At many of these meetings, TASWO representatives gave presentations on social work in Tanzania.

The exchange visit culminated in a Forum in Washington, DC on “New Developments in Tanzanian Social Work Education, Policy, and Practice,” held on November 18 at the NASW office and co-hosted by the NASW DC Metro Chapter.  Over 55 people attended the presentation by the TASWO representatives, who were joined by the other members of the Social Work Partnership in Tanzania.  They include Nathan Linsk and Sally Mason of the Jane Addams School of Social Work and the Midwest AIDS Training & Education Center (MATEC) and Leah Omari and Furaha Dimitrios of the Tanzania Institute of Social Work in Tanzania.

Topics covered at the November 18 event included an historical perspective of social work in Tanzania, an overview of social work education in Tanzania, the training and supervision of a new cadre of para-social workers in Tanzania, the recent expansion of TASWO, and efforts being coordinated between TASWO and the Tanzanian government to establish a national Social Work Council to regulate the social work profession.

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TASWO, NASW, The Institute of Social Work (ISW) in Tanzania and the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago are involved in a Social Work Partnership Twinning Program that supports the development of TASWO, the ISW para social work training program, as well as the Tanzania Emerging Schools of Social Work Education Program (TESWEP).  The Social Work Partnership is funded through the HIV/AIDS Twinning Center, a program of the American International Health Alliance (AIHA), which is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Twinning partnerships are peer-to-peer relationships between organizations working to improve services for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. With support from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and USAID Tanzania, twinning partnerships establish an effective framework for building sustainable institutional and human-resource capacity through the open exchange of knowledge, information, and professional experience.