The State of Social Work in Egypt
Abstract and Keywords
Although professional social work in Egypt has a 100-year history, there is a dearth of information in English about social work in Egypt and other non-Western countries. Five domains of social work in Egypt are (1) the international flow of Western social work practice into Egypt, (2) modern social work, (3) social work research and social work interventions, (4) social work education, and (5) fields of practice. These five domains that inform modern social work in Egypt were produced from international flows of Western social work practice into Egypt. It was also produced from social work research and social work intervention. Modern social work also comes from teaching bachelor of social work students professional social work courses. Social work knowledge was adapted, authenticated, and indigenized to meet local context. These five dominated themes have been detailed and explained. International flows of Western social work practice into Egypt include transmission (transplantation), authentication, and indigenization. Modern social work in Egypt includes social work practice and social welfare policy. Social work research has included explanatory, descriptive and experiment social work research studies. Social work intervention has included social work intervention of aiming at solving problems and stressors and social work intervention of aiming at applying resources for change. Fields of social work practice includes family and child Social Work and school social work. Social work education is focused only on Bachelor of Science in Social Work covering the professional social work courses group work practice, social casework practice, community organization, social welfare planning, policy and administration, fields of social work practice. A synthetic approach that knits together these five themes entail that modern social work has been produced from international flows of Western social work practice into Egyptian context. It is also produced from social work research and social work intervention. Modern social work also comes as results of teaching Bachelor Social Work (BSW) students the professional social work courses.
This article summarizes five domains of social work in Egypt but first gives a brief overview of the care-giving systems and social movements in Egypt that occurred before formal social work education and the work of the profession began in Egypt.
A Brief Overview of the Caregiving Systems and Social Movements in Egypt
Caregiving systems and social movements in Egypt before formal social work education and the profession began in Egypt were focused mainly on health and welfare through voluntary welfare societies. These voluntary welfare societies offered needed help for vulnerable populations and marginalized groups. Examples of these voluntary welfare societies were Mabarrat Muhammad Ali al-Kabir established in 1900, the New Women Society established in 1920, the Al-Amal Society established in 1924, and the Society of Egyptian Ladies’ Awakening established in 1919 (Baron, 2005). The underlying philosophy of these voluntary welfare societies was not to socially reform; rather it was to maintain social stability and cohesion of the system through meeting the needs of people in accordance with prevailing social values and institutions. The critical social movements that challenged traditional thinking over time emerged in terms of Egyptian feminism and the revolution of 1919 (Badran, 1993; Marsot, 1978).
Poverty in contemporary Egypt is defined according to the cost of basic needs methodology. Poverty lines represent the level of per capita expenditures the members of a household can be expected to reach to meet their basic needs. In the Egyptian household, the specific poverty line is calculated as the sum of the food and non-food poverty lines. The lower poverty line restricts non-food expenditure to the share typical of those individuals whose total expenditure is equivalent to the food poverty line. The upper poverty line allows a non-food expenditure share typical of those individuals whose expenditure on food is equivalent to the food poverty line (El-Laithy, Lakshin, & Banerji, 2003). In 1999–2000, more than 20% of the Egyptian population (12 million people) fell below the lower poverty line (an inability to meet basic needs) and more than 50% (32 million people) fell below the upper poverty line (an indication of consumption expenditures among the poor after satisfying basic needs; Rowe & Rizzo, 2008). No unemployment allowances are available to unemployed Egyptian persons. The lower socioeconomic status population in Egypt continues to grow, as does the middle and upper socioeconomic status population. Thirty-three percent of Egyptian children in urban areas live below the poverty line, while 25% of rural children live in poverty (Rowe & Rizzo, 2008). While it appears that urban children have higher poverty rates than rural children, this is due to the different measures of poverty. Poverty rates have been observed to be significantly higher in the rural sector, and about 63% of the poor live in rural areas. The rural sector accounts for about the same proportion of national poverty for different measures of poverty. When considering different poverty lines, this proportion does change, as the rural sector included about 74% of those individuals living in extreme poverty (Jolliffe, Datt, & Sharma, 2004).
Five Domains of Social Work Knowledge in Egypt
Social work has been a part of Egyptian society for almost a century, so it should come as no surprise that the state of social work in Egypt has changed with the changing social context. Much has been written about social work in Western countries, and the writings about social work in non-Western countries remain small in comparison. It is important to examine social work around the globe, because the social context influences the state of social work in any society (e.g., Badran, 1971; Kendall, 1987; Megahead, 2015a; Watts, 1995). Previous scholarship on the state of social work in Egypt (see Megahead, 2012, 2015a, 2015b, 2017a, 2017b, 2017d) has grappled with five dominate themes: the international flow of Western social work practice into Egypt; modern social work practices in Egypt; social work research and social work intervention; fields of social work practice; and social work education.
Existing literature on all five domains are examined here, beginning with the international flow of Western social work practice into Egypt. This flow began with the transmission (transplantation) of Western social work knowledge and practice (Megahead, 2012, 2015a, 2015b, 2017a, 2017b, 2017d). But this knowledge was not adopted whole cloth. Instead, transmission was followed by authentication of the transplanted knowledge for the social context of Egypt (Megahead, 2012, 2015a, 2015b, 2017a, 2017b, 2017d). Finally, after decades of authentication of interventions for the local context, social work knowledge and practice has become indigenized (Megahead, 2012, 2015a, 2015b, 2017a, 2017b, 2017d).
International Flow of Western Social Work Practice Into Egypt
There is no specific known time for when Egyptians felt a need to import the Western social work education system. The flow of Western social work into Egypt began with social work practice rather than social work education. In 1931, the U.S. settlement house movement idea was transplanted to Egypt. This idea was pioneered by a group of Egyptian citizens who were willing to start this movement and bring U.S. social work knowledge to their own country. Egyptian scholars were sent to study rural social work and community organization in Germany and the United States and to import their social work systems.
The first concept—transmission (transplantation)—is a process carried out by foreign-born and native-trained social workers to cultivate Western (e.g., American) theories and techniques of social work into their original countries (Megahead, 2015b). This process of transmission or transplantation included three main steps. First, foreign-born and native-trained social workers used U.S. programs and techniques effectively over a long period. Second, they sifted through the different programs and services in the U.S. field of social work. Finally, they identified what could be integrated in the social structure of their original country, filling in social gaps and setting higher social standards. The process of transplantation also involved three main elements. First, the foreign-born and native-trained social workers selected potential recipients of “transplants” (their countries). Second, they ensured equity in allocating “organs,” with pre- and peritransplantation care of recipients. Third, they followed up the posttransplantation of organ recipients.
The U.S. model of social work was transmitted in the Egyptian context. Two examples represent this process of transplantation. The first example is the U.S. settlement movement idea. A group of Egyptian citizens who had become concerned about the prevailing problems at that time formed an organization that established a number of settlements in different areas in Egypt (Megahead, 2015b).The second example is the idea of adopting the U.S. Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in an Egyptian context. The proposed Egyptian Council on Social Work Education was meant to act as a guardian for educational change (Soliman, 2007). The CSWE was founded in 1952 (Healy, 2004). It has taken three-quarters of a century to reach its current state of progress and advancement. The current committees of the CSWE as well as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) were developed from workshops and groups. Thus transplanting the CSWE idea into the Egyptian context had to start with establishing workshops, groups, and then committees in Egypt (Greenwood, 1957).
Authentication was needed to develop social work approaches rooted in the Egyptian local context to respond to local needs and/or social problems. Authentication also involved social workers and social work researchers distancing themselves from any application of the Western social work model and generating new responses to structural social problems from within (Megahead, 2015b). To produce an authentic Egyptian social work perspective, research studies in the Arabic language were conducted. One such area of local research is the application of reflexivity by Egyptian social work practitioners. Reflexive social work practitioners and educators use a direct and interactive process to think about their professional actions and performance during and after its occurrence to engage in continuing self-awareness (Finlay, 2008; Finlay & Gough, 2003).
Four examples provided here demonstrate authentication. In researching the possibilities and obstacles of treating residents of Cairene mental hospitals in their normal environment (e.g., family, neighborhood, and community), social workers believe their reunification with their families is the main objective; making use of their normal environment is also a social work technique of dealing with these residents (Megahead, 2015b). The second example of authentication is related to family social work. In “Family Foster Care, Kinship Networks, and Residential Care of Abandoned Infants in Egypt,” Megahead and Cesario (2008) described the historical and cultural context needed for family services in Egypt to address infant abandonment. The primary solution suggested was family reunification. Reunification has become an aim for street children in Egypt; in the most successful cases, children returned home to live with their biological families. Social work practitioners help them reunite with their biological families instead of referring them to residential care (Megahead, 2015b). The third example of authentication is related to matching services to the needs and cultural backgrounds of the children concerned. The authentication process of service development is significant in Egyptian child welfare because models of practice that work elsewhere cannot easily be transferred across countries. Therefore, non-kinship foster care has been established in Egypt (Megahead, 2017c). A fourth example of authentication is related to community development. Pious neoliberal development has been produced by the combining and blending Islamic piety (e.g., Islamic social values) with the Western neoliberal development (e.g., Western efficiencies). This Islamic pious neoliberal development has provided an authentic social work intervention for social problems such as poverty in the Egyptian context. The main feature of this intervention is to connect volunteerism, self-help rhetoric, and management science with the Islamic philanthropy (Megahead, 2015b). While Egyptian youth have experienced apathy and indifference, the majority of Egyptian people suffer from poverty. Volunteerism has been seen as the best technique to support and help people experiencing poverty and activating the better-off Egyptian youth. Involving the better-off Egyptian youth in disadvantaged communities has made the activities of community development less costly and more sincere. By this authentic community development, the poverty problem of the Egyptian disadvantaged communities is reduced (Sparre, 2008).
Indigenization refers to appropriateness, which means professional social work roles must be relevant to the needs of different recipient countries, and social work education must be relevant to the demands of social work practice. It also means adapting imported Western social work ideas to fit the local needs of a recipient country. In addition, indigenization means that the social workers and social work researchers in a recipient country identify incongruous components of the Western model and work to modify them to apply in the different cultural context of the recipient country (Megahead, 2015b). Two examples of indigenization are offered ere. The first example involves clinical mental health intervention research. This process requires social work researchers and practitioners to recognize that each population is unique and consequently interventions need to be adapted before applying them to a new population and tailoring them for each population (Gearing et al., 2013). Four factors have been facilitated the indigenization process in the clinical mental health intervention. First, adapting intervention protocols to Egyptian culture and language has increased acceptability of services. Second, interventions can leverage the widespread acceptance of already existing health systems to promote broader utilization of mental health services (Okasha, 1991). Third, acceptance of mental health intervention programs is increased with buy-in and support from significant Egyptian community natural leaders. Fourth, the role of public awareness and education campaigns to increase intervention acceptability has been significant (Gearing et al., 2013).
A second example of indigenization is conflict strategies. Conflict strategies were recently indigenized and adapted to Egyptian context. These conflict strategies unite widely disparate groups and previously unconnected people to achieve and implement one shared goal. Egyptian community organization practitioners have used conflict strategies successfully. Egyptian community organization practitioners have given instructions to disparate groups and disconnected people from all walks of life to keep protest areas free of any overt signs of partisan affiliation. These people were also instructed to only raise the Egyptian flag as a powerful visual symbol of patriotism and national unity. Adaptation and indigenization included that the concerned people needed to have one shared goal and some set of shared subtargets to implement. They also needed future plans and procedures determined in advance to inform actions after achieving this first shared goal (Megahead, 2015a).
Modern Social Work
In examining the historical development of social work in Egypt, it was found that as Egyptian society and its social context continuously changed across time, the state of social work consequently changed as well. Both traditional social work and modern social work have changed. Traditional social work is reflected in social solidarity among family and community members. It is also seen in the religious form of charity (zakat or/and sadaka). The Wakf (endowment), whether Islamic or non-Islamic, also contributed to the traditional social work system in Egypt (Megahead, 2012). Further, Islamic teachings established the principle of state responsibility toward all needy citizens and provided for its practical administration through the institution of Zakat and Bait-al Mal (Megahead, 2017c). Due to historical developments and changing social contexts, this traditional social work has been weakened or suspended (Hussein, 1954; Megahead, 2017d; Ragab, 1980).
Social work practice is defined as
organized activity that aims at helping to achieve a mutual adjustment of individuals and their social environment. This objective is achieved through the use of techniques and methods designed to enable individuals, groups, and communities to meet their needs and solve their problems of adjustment to a changing pattern of society and through co-operative action to improve economic and social conditions.
(Megahead, 2012, p. 281)
Social welfare policy fits within the parameters of the previous description with the following definition: “Social policies are policies the primary domain of which is the nature of all possible sets of human relationships, and the quality of life or level of well-being within a given society” (Megahead, 2012, p. 281). Egyptian social welfare policy is “the policy of governments with regard to action having a direct impact on the welfare of citizens by providing them with services or income” (Megahead, 2012, p. 281). Egyptian social welfare policy could be differentiated from health, education, and housing policy based on its objectives, activities, or instruments of action, although it has a supportive role in helping these related sectors achieve their goals (Megahead, 2012).
Modern social work includes social work practice and social welfare policy (Megahead, 2012). Both social work practice and social welfare policy are essential in terms of connecting the specific and concrete activities social work practitioners engage in to help those in need with the professional activities that focus on both change in and maintenance of the institution of social welfare (Paker, 1976). Moreover, health, educational, and housing policies have been differentiated from social welfare policy; social work practitioners conduct an essential but secondary role in supporting health, educational, and housing services and policies when accomplishing their own objectives. Health, educational, and housing services have their own professionals (such as medical doctors and teachers), their own remit of work, their own activities, and their own instruments of action as a health policy (Nandakumar, Reich, Chawla, Berman, & Yip, 2000), a housing policy (Joya, 2013), and an education policy (Chiara, 2010; Hartmann, 2008).
Social Work Research and Social Work Intervention
In general, Egyptian social work practitioners have used authentic interventions based on their practice experience. Formal social work training usually involves at least one introductory course in social work research in the normal four-year university undergraduate social work education program (BSW). In the final year of an undergraduate social work education, students also design and implement social work research under the supervision of social work research mentors. Social work students generally collaborate on their social work research projects, and they write final reports on various social work issues (Megahead, 2017d). Although undergraduate social work education involves some formal research training, the training may not necessarily translate into practice. For example, one study found that 57% of a sample of school social work practitioners in Egypt did not use mainstream (Western) models of social work intervention with pupils (Salem, 1998, cited in Al-Ma’seb et al., 2014). Instead of relying on interventions for which they had been formally trained, the study indicated that school social work practitioners intervened based on their own professional and practical experience (Megahead, 2017d). Reflexive social work practitioners used their direct and interactive ability and processes to think about their professional intervention during and after the event to improve continuing self-awareness.
Individuals in academic and university social work positions are by virtue of their defined roles more engaged in formal research on social work practice than field-based social work practitioners. Since 1980, master’s level and doctoral students in Egyptian universities (e.g., Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt) have produced theses and dissertations on social work practice. These projects have involved exploratory descriptive methods in the identifying and diagnosis process of social and psychological problems (Besheer, 2016; Megahead, 2017d; Noor El-Deen, 2016; Shokr, 2016). Mohamed (2016) used a social survey to investigate the life stressors of elderly women after retirement and its relationship with their performance of social roles. It revealed that there was a correlation between the dimension of retiring stressors and the total dimensions of performing social roles (Mohamed, 2016). Projects also used pre-experimental, quasi-experimental, and true experimental methods in the implementation of specific intervention programs to overcome social and psychological problems (El-Abasey, 2016; Hafeed, 2015; Megahead, 2017d). For example, Esmael (2016) examined the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral approach to develop social skills of high-achieving pupils. A pre-experimental method was used with one sample of high-achieving pupils of preparatory schools (n = 28). It found that there was a statistically significantly positive relationship between professional interventions using cognitive behavioral approaches and developing cooperation skills and managing social stressors (Esmael, 2016).
In terms of general study type, an examination of the Journal of Studies and Research on Social Work & Social Sciences (from 1995 to 2012) revealed that of the 697 articles published, 82.4% (n = 574) were explanatory and descriptive social work research studies (e.g., Abdel-Hafeed, 2005; Heegazy, 2008; Madboley, 2005; Megahead, 2017d). Only 16.5% (n = 115) could be classified as experimental social work research studies (e.g., Al-Sharqawy & Kandeal, 2008; Gabel, 2003). For example, Gabel’s research study aimed at examining the effectiveness of practice of emotional rational therapy with general high school students to develop the attitude of individual social responsibility. An experimental study using an experimental and control group with pre- and posttests examined the use of emotional rational therapy with the general high school students in developing individual social responsibility (Gabel, 2003). Al-Sharqawy and Kandeal’s study examined the influence of social work students’ practicing task-centered model in a specific neighborhood on activating voluntarism. This pre-experimental method used pretest and posttest with an experimental group. The study revealed a statistically significant positive relationship between the practice of task-centered model by social work students and activating voluntarism (Al-Sharqawy & Kandeal, 2008). Only eight articles (1.1%) were research studies of development and validation of measures useful for assessment and evaluation purposes in social work practice (e.g., Othman, 2012; Shalabey, 2006). The significance of assessment is specified in two axioms of treatment. The first axiom asserted that if social work practitioners cannot measure the client’s problems of social and/or interpersonal significance, they do not exist. The second axiom stated that if social work practitioners cannot measure the client’s problem of social and/or interpersonal significance, then they cannot treat them (Megahead, 2017b). For example, to measure the negative behavioral reflections of Egyptian youth in an Internet cafe so that a social work intervention could be arranged to reduce them, Shalabey (2006) developed an authentic scale for behavioral reflections. To measure community members’ sense of social responsibility to protect and maintain the environment, Othman (2012) developed an authentic scale for measuring community members’ attitudes toward their role in protecting and maintaining the environment.
In relation to social work intervention, practice in the real world is the raison d’etre of social work, and the purpose of social work is to pursue intervention (Megahead, 2017b). Social work practitioners do not stop after studying a phenomenon; they are always doing something about it in terms of preventing ill-health, changing policy, influencing organizations, assisting families, or/and teaching people coping skills. Therefore, social work researchers need to be the same as social work practitioners and not stop at only studying the phenomenon (exploratory and descriptive research); they need to conduct intervention research (Megahead, 2017b). According to Badran (1971), social work practice is defined as “organized activity that aims at helping to achieve a mutual adjustment of individuals and their social environment” (p. 281). This objective is achieved through the use of techniques and methods designed to enable individuals, groups, and communities to meet their needs and solve their problems of adjustment to a changing pattern of society and through cooperative action improve economic and social conditions (Megahead, 2012).
Social work intervention includes solving problems, reducing stressors, and applying resources needed for change. Two types of social work intervention have been identified (Megahead, 2017d). The first is the application of intentionally designed social work interventions to solve, eliminate, and/or alleviate problems of social and/or interpersonal significance. The second is the application of intentionally designed social work interventions to help individuals acquire specific skills, positive behavior, and/or resources (Megahead & Soliday, 2013). These two types of social work intervention—solving problems and applying resources for change—are not drawn from specific models of intervention. Instead, social work practitioners may choose the model of intervention that is most relevant for the case, group, or community with which they are working. Examples of specific social work models include ecosystem theory, cognitive behavioral therapy, the client-centered model, crisis intervention, family theory, behavioral model therapy, and task-centered therapy. Other models of intervention focus on small groups, community organizations, community practices, and working with one client (Megahead, 2017d).
In an example of applying resources for change, Hammouda (2016) examined using the technique of a collective project in social group work to help dormitory students acquire confronting skills. The research study showed that using the technique of collective project in social group work is effective in controlling the reactions of the social interaction and dialogue and helping the student acquire confronting skills (Hammouda, 2016). Regarding the social work interventions of solving problems for change, Fahmey (1999) used the group work intervention to help street children become more socially adjusted in their community. This research study demonstrated that group work intervention is effective regarding helping the street children in Alexandria, Egypt, to accomplish social adjustment in their community. Moreover, Hamed (1999) used the family therapy techniques in social casework to increase the rate of marital adjustment of wives and their husbands in El-Maadi, Cairo, Egypt. This study found that family therapy techniques can be effective to improve the marital adjustment among studied couples.
Fields of Social Work Practice
As previously mentioned, modern social work has included both social work practice and social welfare policy. Social work practice has included several practice fields. The rationale behind the practice fields are to link social work practice with the high-priority local needs and problems of Egyptian people. Practice fields include industrial social work, social work in reclaimed areas, social work in vocational training and preparation, social work with families, social work in family planning services, social work with children, social work with youth and college (university) students, social work in healthcare, school social work, social work with elderly people, social defense services, social work with special needs and disabled people, and social work in the armed forces (Azer & Afifi, 1992; Megahead, 2003; National Commission of Education Quality Assurance, 2010). The most salient practice fields have been family and child social work and school social work.
In Egyptian family and child social work, systems of family foster care and residential child care have been established. Family foster care has been instituted to best meet the needs of children deprived of their biological family’s care (Megahead, 2010). Egyptian children enter the foster care system because their biological cannot or will not care for them and they do not have access to appropriate kinship care (Megahead, 2017c). If there is no extended family member who can care for them, these children are first placed in residential care. These children are referred to Family and Childhood Administrations by Family Consultations and Guidance Bureaus. The Family Consultations and Guidance Bureaus provide advice and family interventions to families and their children. Social work practitioners in these bureaus have the responsibility of referring refer the children of their family clients to Family and Childhood Administrations. The Family and Childhood Administrations develop a placement plan for these children. The first priority is to place them in kinship foster care. Residential care is the second option (Megahead, 2010).
Family foster care is defined as the placement of abandoned infant/children, based on a decision of the Regional Foster Care Committee, in the care of a family. The foster family receives minimum financial support from the Childhood and Family Administrations (Megahead & Cesario, 2008). A majority of foster families (85%) prefer to receive no payment in exchange for caring for a child; instead, they are foster families because of their empathy, generosity, and genuine love of children (Megahead & Cesario, 2008). Foster families are visited monthly by a foster family social work practitioner, who submits reports every six months to the Regional Foster Care Committee. Reunification of the biological family is the final goal in the comprehensive process of caring for abandoned infants/children. Adolescents are assisted with searching for, contacting, and becoming reunited with their biological families, if so desired. Legal documents, objects, and data are preserved to increase the chances of reuniting abandoned children with their biological families (Megahead & Cesario, 2008).
In relation to residential child care facilities, there are childcare homes, residential care homes, and SOS Children’s Villages. Child care homes care for children age 2 to 6 years old. Residential care homes are for children from 6 to 18 years old. SOS Children’s Villages have been established to provide a “home” atmosphere with a residential care-giving female performing the role of mother and a male director of the village performing the role of the father (Kashef, 2016). These villages are operated by SOS Kinderdorf International, a nonprofit organization working in conjunction with the Egyptian government to provide housing and educational services for children who have been deprived of the care of their biological families and do not have access to appropriate kinship care. If there is no extended family member who can care for them, these children are placed in residential care such as SOS Children’s Villages (Megahead, 2010). Cairo SOS Children’s Village houses from 225 to 270 children, Alexandria SOS Children’s Village houses nearly 100 children, and Tanta SOS Children’s Village houses up to 110 children.
SOS Children’s Villages accept children from 2 to 6 years old. During admission, SOS Children’s Villages’ social work practitioners examine the children’s history, record their past experiences, and classify them as either (a) children who have been neglected, (b) children whose biological families had accidents or/and disaster, (c) orphan children of both parents who have no relatives to care for them, or (d) children whose biological parents are not able to care for them in the way those children need (Kellany, 2001; Megahead, 2010; Megahead & Cesario, 2008). At the age of 13, males are grouped into groups of six and have two supervisors for their education. At the age of 21, females move to youth hostels on the village premises and remain there until they get married; there they continue their education (El Noshokaty, 2004).
School social work has been mainly carried out by the school social work office. The main responsibility of school social work practitioners in the schools is to cooperate with the school authorities and to organize and direct school activities (El-Bannah, 1997; Hussein, 2012). School social work offices were established because Egyptian pupils experience many social, economic, and/or school problems (Suliman & El-Kogali, 2002). School social work referrals are carried out by the school social work office (El-Sisi, 1991; Mohamed, 2016). The organizational structure of the school social work office includes a professional team. This professional work team includes a director, junior school social work practitioners, and psychologists. The director is a senior school social work practitioner. The main duties of the junior school social work practitioner in the school social work office can be summarized as follows(Ahmed, 2018; Mohamed, 2002):
1. Each junior school social work practitioner has a specific number of schools in the district which they have to visit periodically.
2. When a case comes to the specialized school social work office it is registered in a special file and then given to a junior school social work practitioner with the permission of the director of the office. The investigating junior school social work practitioner is then responsible for visiting the school, interviewing the parents and the school social work practitioner who referred the case, and acquainting him—or herself with all the aspects of the problem.
3. The junior school social work practitioner can meet the pupil at reasonable times in the school or in the office to get to know him or her.
4. After establishing a professional relationship of confidence, the junior school social work practitioner should, with the agreement of the pupil, make future appointments with the child and his or her family.
5. The junior school social work practitioner discusses with the director of the clinic or the psychologist the individual case and the best methods for treatment.
6. A report must be made on each meeting that takes place, as well as a summary of each case at least every two months and a final summary. The school must be notified about decisions regarding the case.
7. The junior school social work practitioner makes a plan for the week every Wednesday, and after its approval by the director it can only be changed with his or her permission. The Department of Youth Care in the zone is given this plan on Thursday. One junior school social work practitioner is always to be on duty in the office to receive cases.
8. On the fifth of each month, the junior school social work practitioner gives the director a monthly report of his or her work, which is then incorporated in the director’s own monthly report of the work of the office. Two copies are sent to the Department of Youth Care of the Ministry of Education and others remain in the zone office.
9. At a monthly conference, the junior school social work practitioner presents specific cases of interest. The director as well as the psychologist also has the right to select cases and to suggest the kind of treatment necessary.
Three different fields of social work practice in Egypt exist that are not a part of the Western social work system, namely industrial social work, social work in the reclaimed areas, and social defense services. Industrial social work is a practice field concerned with the welfare of industrial employees (Megahead, 2003). Social defense is an authentic practice field concerned with the welfare of juvenile delinquency. It is focused on the processes of adjustment and adaptation of criminal juveniles in their normal environment rather than their institutional care environment (Abdel Khalek, 1996). Reclaimed areas social work is a practice field concerned with the welfare of the relocated inhabitants of reclaimed areas of previously desert land. Land reclamation has been used for a number of different policy purposes ,and reclamation of the desert continues, despite the inherent problems in resettling people and cultivating the desert. Land reclamation in the Egyptian context means converting desert areas to agricultural land and rural settlements (Adriansen, 2009).
Social Work Education
In 1936, the formal social work education system in Egypt began. The process of its evolution is detailed in a separate article (see Megahead, 2015a). Social work education in Egypt includes four levels: BSW, postgraduate diploma in social work, master’s degree in social work, and doctor of philosophy in social work (Megahead, 2012). Only the BSW is discussed here. The mission of the BSW is “Preparing a high quality social worker able to apply the skills of dealing with social work systems and influencing them for making changes for developing the community and individuals”(Megahead, 2015a, pp. 963–964). Practice protection for social workers in Egypt has been achieved, and therefore no one without at least a BSW social work qualification is able to occupy a social work position (Megahead, 2012).
A BSW requires a four-year university program after successfully completing a General Secondary High School Exam with a score of at least 75%. Personal admission tests and interviews are arranged to assess the social and psychological traits and characteristics of possible social work students. During the four-year university studies in social work, a social work student must attend field education. The field education starts from the third year and ends in the fourth year. The main field education in the third year (junior) is school social work field practice. The field education in the fourth year (senior) includes but is not limited to practice in family and child social work, healthcare and social work, and mental health and social work (Megahead, 2012). The establishment of a BSW degree is based on the teaching philosophy of practice methods (social casework, social group-work, and community organization), social welfare policy, and the social work practice fields.
The Egyptian educational institutions of social work carefully prepare students for social work practice. Preparation is based on three core areas. The first area is foundation courses including General Sociology, Urban and Rural Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, Psychological Health, General Health, Islamic Legislation, Social Legislation, Political Science, Mathematics, Social Statistics, Economics, Economic Development, Social Development, Communication Tools, Public Relations, and Public Administration. The second area involves professional knowledge courses including the History of Social Welfare and Introduction to Social Work, Social Casework, Generalist Practice of Social Work, Social Group Work, the Ecological Perspective of Social Work, Community Organization, Social Welfare Policy and Planning, Social Work Administration, Social Work Research, Group Research Cycle, Generalist Practice of Social Work with Children and Families, Generalist Practice of Social Work with Special Needs People, Generalist Practice of Social Work with Youth, and Generalist Practice of Social Work and the Environment Protection. The third area is professional practice courses, including Field Education (junior) and Field Education (senior), including Group Camp.
The BSW uses the CSWE standards as a guide (Megahead, 2012). For example, generalist social work practice is taught by Department of Fields of Social Work Practice in higher education institutions in Egypt. The social work education department and its social work staff teach generalist social work practice in different practice fields. They teach their undergraduate students four to six educational courses in generalist social work practice. Generalist social work at the initial level involves a way of viewing practice. Practice at the initial level (BSW) requires a set of 10 competencies necessary to offer services consistent with the understanding derived from this perspective (Megahead, 2015a).
In relation to the practice of multidisciplinary approaches, the Model Psychiatric Centre at Ain Shams University, based on the psychiatric team concept, was established. In this center, the psychiatric team involves psychiatric social workers, psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists in giving comprehensive service to patients. This center has joined with educational institutions of social work to train social work graduates in a multidisciplinary approach to psychiatric disorders (Megahead, 2015a). Also, social work academics in these educational institutions of social work prepare educational textbooks to support the practice of a multidisciplinary approach (El-Nouhy, 2018).
Community organization education in Egypt includes the community organization helping process and community development. Community organization educators teach their social work students relevant helping processes for Egyptian people and youth. This process includes helping Egyptian people and youth to examine (a) whether or not social and political reforms are worth the cost and (b) what this social and political will reform look like. It also involves guiding them to understand there are many steps to moving from a dictatorship to the aspired-to and needed Egyptian democracy. They also teach these students the procedures of revolutionary approaches that are so urgently needed (Megahead, 2015a).
Community development mainly tries to achieve the social inclusion of Egyptians who are excluded and marginalized from mainstream community life. These families are supported through a variety of market and non-market activities (Hoodfar, 1990). Egyptian women’s market activities and non-market activities have represented the backbone for reinclusion of these families in mainstream community life (e.g., Drolet, 2011; Hoodfar, 1990; Rogers, Hunter, & Uddin, 2007). Non-market activities include but are not limited to producing goods at home for self-consumption (Hoodfar, 1990). For example, a woman from El-Minia, one of the smaller towns in central Egypt, was supported by adding a new livelihood project that she was following with great vigor and considerable returns. She took a bus every week from her village to the nearest town where she bought needles, thread, buttons, zips, and fasteners and sold them in the village. This was not the only livelihood in which she and her family engaged; however, it was very rewarding (Rogers et al., 2007). In terms of pious neoliberal development in regarding reducing the poverty problem of the Egyptian disadvantaged communities.
The mission of the Egypt BSW program is to graduate a general social work practitioner who is able to work in different practice fields. In relation to the new challenges of the Egyptian society, this BSW program greatly emphasizes the practice experiences of the newly qualified social work practitioners gained through the direct and first-hand encounters with the new challenges of the Egyptian society. The social and behavioral sciences foundation courses, the professional knowledge courses, and the professional practice courses are the three pillars for newly qualified social workers’ education. Direct and first-hand encounters in the real life of social work practice are another and further preparation for newly qualified social workers. From this, an authentic social work practice has emerged.
Egypt’s BSW program is different from the Western (U.S.) framework of training and practice; in Egypt, the BSW is the level of general practice. There has been neither private practice nor specialized practice in a specific field. The BSW level and the level of general practice have been applicable to any social work practice field. Therefore the skills students gain through learning to work with different populations such as the mentally ill, families (including children and youth), and the elderly are the general social work skills. Examples of these general social work skills are methods skills, intervention skills, skills of meetings and interviews, skills of building professional relationships, skills of advocacy and negotiation, skills of persuasion, skills of hope, skills of acceptance, skills of empathy, skills of person-centered communication, and skills of confidentiality (National Commission of Education Quality Assurance, 2010).
Egypt’s BSW program also is different from the Western (U.S.) framework of training and practice of social work in terms of co-existance between the old and new social work courses and modules such as social casework, social group work, community organzation, and generalist social work practice in one program. Egypt’s BSW program also includes community development. The community development component introduces radical change in social work methods, giving priority to the needs and social problems of local people. Community development has aimed at ensuring a closer relationships with economic development, adopting integrated solutions and promoting measures for social reform and social justice (Azer & Afifi, 1992).
The five domains of the state of social work in Egypt are closely knitted together. Modern social work was produced from international flows of Western social work practice into the Egyptian context. Community development, child and family social work, and school social work are major fields of social work practice in Egypt. These three social work practice fields were produced from the authentication process, because there are unique problems and challenges in Egypt. Based on these unique problems and challenges, an authentic social work response was produced in each of these three practice fields.
Modern social work is also produced from social work research and social work intervention, including not only indigenizing and adapting Western scales and measures but also authenticating and developing new ones. Many adapted Arabic versions of English-language psychosocial assessment tools have been produced. Moreover, authentic versions of Arabic-language psychosocial assessment tools have been published (Megahead, 2017b). Three examples of indigenizing and adapting Western scales and measures demonstrated positive results. First, the Arabic version of the Depressive Cognition Scale for Egyptian adolescents was used to measure adolescents’ problem of depressive cognition (Bekhet & Zauszniewski, 2010). Second, the Arabic version of High M. Bell’s Adjustment Inventory was used to measure street children’s general and social adjustment (Awad, 1982; Bell, 1935; Fahmey, 1999). Third, the Arabic version of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale was used to measure marital adjustment of wives and their husbands (Hamed, 1999; Spanier & Filsinger, 1983). Three examples of authenticating and developing new scales to measure clients’ specific skills, positive behavior, and/or resources include the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, a specific assessment tool used in mental health social work practice (Seif Eldin et al., 2008); a scale of transparency in nongovernmental organizations (Helal, 2012); and an authentic scale of studying habits, used to measure the improvement of studying habits of preparatory school students (Al-Sharqawy & Kandeal, 2008; El-Faramawey, 1990).
Modern social work also comes as the result of social work education in the Egyptian context, including teaching social work practice and social welfare policy to undergraduate social work students. Teaching social work practice includes practice methods and practice fields. Teaching practice methods involves professional social work courses such as group work, social casework, and community organization. These practice methods were not only adapted and indigenized to the Egyptian society but also authentically developed. Teaching social work practice fields comprises many fields of social work practice such as child and family social work and school social work. These social work practice fields were authentically developed for Egyptian society. Teaching social welfare policy includes social welfare policy and social welfare planning.
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