Dr Peta-Anne Baker, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of the West Indies, Mona, believes successive governments have failed to effectively utilise social workers in Jamaica's education system to tackle issues affecting schools and wants this problem to be addressed urgently.
Disclosing that there is only one social worker for each of the six education regions, she has asserted that “administration after administration,” has opted not to follow professional advice on the matter.
Dr. Baker, who raised the issue at a recent RJR News Forum, said the approach being taken in the education system with regards to child development and child welfare is seriously limited, not taking into account the difference that deploying an adequate cadre of social workers would make.
“I have personally tried to engage with the Ministry of the Education at the highest level; I’ve gone as far as send job descriptions, all kinds of policy documents, exemplars of how school social work can operate,” she explained.
She said, despite promises to implement these recommendations, the Ministry of Education has ultimately declined to do so, citing lack of resources to do so.
Any school with more than 500 students should have at least two social workers, in addition to the guidance counselors who are currently employed, she said.