It’s Social Work Week in the Philippines. The celebration commemorates the anniversary of the Republic Act 4373, otherwise known as the Social Work Law. The passage of the Social Work Law on June 19, 1965 has regulated the practice of social work and the operation of social welfare agencies in the Philippines. Subsequently, it has created a new interest in social work and in the field of social welfare. Incidentally, the date falls on the birthday of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
While the celebration is national in scope as endorsed by the association of professional social workers, the dynamism is more felt in Iloilo and the whole Western Visayas where the annual celebration has been institutionalized by virtue of provincial and city resolutions/ordinances.
This year’s theme is “Responding to the Changing Times: Together, We Develop the Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.” It is an offshoot of the worldwide movement of social workers to push for the Global Social Agenda. Among others are social and economic equalities, dignity and worth of peoples, environmental sustainability, human relationships.
The celebration is a good opportunity to blog about social work. Contrary to perennial misconception, social work is a profession. While it started from charitable act, the welfare activities have emerged and joined the noble professions in the world.
RA 4373 defines Social Work as a profession which is primarily concerned with organized social service activity aimed to facilitate and strengthen basic social relationships and the mutual adjustment between individuals and their social environment for the good of the individual and of society.
As used in this Act, Social Worker is a practitioner who by accepted academic training and social work professional experience possesses the skill to achieve the objectives as defined and set by the social work profession, through the use of the basic methods and techniques of social work (casework, group work, and community organization) which are designed to enable individuals, groups and communities to meet their needs and to solve the problems of adjustment to a changing pattern of society and, through coordinated action, to improved economic and social conditions, and is connected with an organized social work agency which is supported partially or wholly from government or community solicited funds.
The Social Work law requires a valid certificate of registration as a social worker issued by the Board of Examiners for Social Workers in order to practice social work in the Philippines. An examinee must be a holder of a bachelor’s degree in social work with a minimum period of 1,000 hours of field practice under the direct supervision of a fully trained and qualified social worker.
However, RA 4373 was amended by Republic Act No. 5175 which was passed in 1967. Significant features of the amendment included the protection of the rights of social workers holding provisional appointment for the past five years at the time of the passage of the law. Also, the qualification of master’s degree holders in social work for board examinations. With such amendment, graduates from other four year courses, aside from BSSW, can proceed to master’s degree in social work and take up the board examination upon graduation.