University Begins New Social Work Program for Professionals

The Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), which began offering the country’s first degree in social work in 2008, will open enrollment next week for a new evening program aimed at professionals, according to the head of the school’s social work department.

With the program set to begin in November, the university is looking to enroll 30 students who are already working for NGOs or in the public sector, according to Ung Kimkanika, acting head of RUPP’s department of social work.

“We acknowledge that they have a lot of experience on the ground, but at the same time, it would be good if they also practiced more professionally,” Ms. Kimkanika said.

With thousands of people in the country doing jobs that fall under the wide umbrella of “social work”—such as community organizers, advocacy workers, government officials and educators—the program will aim to enhance their abilities.

“Social work is a profession,” Ms. Kimkanika said. “Somehow, I think the education and the degree have to confirm their practice as well.”

As part of the four-year program, which costs $600 a year, students are expected to develop interpersonal skills, learn to assess research methods, apply data analysis to their work, develop and implement community plans and learn to support victims of trauma, she said.

The program will borrow much of the curriculum and faculty from RUPP’s scholarship-based social work program, which was started seven years ago in partnership with the the University of Washington in the U.S.

Ros Sopheap, executive director of the NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, said the program would be a great benefit to practicing professionals across the private and public sectors.

“There is still a lot of violence, and social work is really an opportunity to help us shut it down—to contribute to development,” she said.

“If we only concentrate on the technical without thinking about social needs, this is not going to bring development for success.

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