Asian Challenges to Globalisation of Social Work Education ...
Asian Challenges to Globalisation of
Social Work Education
This article tries to describe the impact of globalisation on social work education in
Asian countries. A historical review of the import of social work education from the
United States of America to Asian countries like India, Japan and China is discussed.
The dynamics and challenges in forms of homogeneity versus diversity, universality
versus specificity, and independence versus interdependence are mentioned. Their
impacts to the future development of social work education in Asian countries are also
described and appropriate responses suggested.
Dr. Kam-Shing Yip is Associate Professor at the Department of Applied Social
Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Horn Kowloon, Hong Kong.
The development of social work education around the world was closely
related to the development of international development of social work.
Mayadas and Elliott (1997) described that there were four phases of in-
ternational social work development.
• Phase one marked the phase of the Early Pioneers (1880s-
1940s). Charity Organisation Societies (COS) and Settlement
Movements were imported from England to the United States
of America (USA). Social work education gradually developed
in the USA and the United Kingdom (UK) in this phase.
• Phase two was the phase of professional imperialism in which
American social work began to export to Europe (Mayadas and
Elliot, 1997). At the same time, social work education was also
exported by missionaries from the UK and the USA to other
parts of world, including Asia, Africa and South America.
• Phase three (1970s-1990s) saw the re-conceptualisation of
social work as inspired by social development, oppression and
radical political ideas in response to underdevelopment and
exploitation in various countries (Mayadas and Elliott, 1997).
In this phase, social work education in non-Western countries,
like India and Japan, tried to struggle for its own uniqueness
according to their own political and social contexts.
• Phase four has seen frequent exchange of social work practice
among different nations and ethnic groups (Mayadas and Eilliot,

50. Kam-Shing Yip
Facilitated by technical assistance from developed countries social
work practice and social work education in underdeveloped and devel-
oping countries gradually became an internationally recognised profes-
sional way to deal with social problems in many countries (Kendell,
1995). Right now, it is estimated t h a t more that 70 countries around the
world have social workers or training institutes for social work educa-
tion (Watts, 1995). Today, both social work practice and social work ed-
ucation in many countries are deeply challenged by the globalisation of
economy and technological advances. Social work education and prac-
tice is no longer simple with its unique ethnic and cultural contexts. In-
stead, it has to face the drastic changes in the needs of clients, social
problems, human rights, and the quality of life speeded up by the
globalisation (Drucker, 1993; Midgley, 2000; Rowe, Hanley, Moreno
and Mould, 2000; Watts, 1995). The changes of social work and social
work education in any country or city are mutually influenced by those
in other countries and cities (Drover, 2000; Midgley, 2000; Rowe and
others, 2000). In this article, I have tried to describe the dynamics and
challenges faced by Asian countries, in particular, India, J a p a n and
China in the globalisation of social work education.

Though there are many Asian countries, I have only outlined social
work education in some important Asian countries like India, J a p a n
and China, as the development of social work education in these coun-
tries were closely related to the development of international social
work, influenced by the happenings in the USA and the UK. Their de-
velopment can be roughly divided into three stages.
Stage 1: Social Work Education Import from the USA
through the Evangelical Movement

During this stage, American social work was also exported to Asian
countries like India, J a p a n and China, together with the evangelical
movement, by Western missionaries.
Social Work Education in India
The first stage in India was an indigenous inception of social work edu-
cation before its Independence from British rule (1936 to 1947). Clifford
Manshardt, an American missionary, founded the Sir Dorabji Tata
Graduate School of Social Work (now the Tata Institute of Social Sci-
ences) in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1936 with financial support from
the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. This was the beginning of professional so-
cial work education in India. Thus, professional social work in India
was initiated through a combination of religious impulse of charity and

Asian Challenges to Globalisation of Social Work Education 51
the modern scientific orientation of Sir Dorabji Tata, a pioneer in the
field of industry in India (Ranade, 1987).
Social Work Education in Japan
The first programme of social work education in Japan may be traced to
1908 when the national government began to train workers in correction
and relief. In this course, subjects like mental health, child psychology,
administration and treatment programmes were taught. In 1911, Taisho
University, a Buddhist university in Tokyo, set up a study centre for so-
cial work. In 1918, this university started the first social work course in
Japan. By 1932, Japan had 11 Buddhist and Christian colleges and uni-
versities offering social work courses (Maeda, 1995).
Social Work Education in China
Social work education was first introduced to China in the 1920s by
American professors in the sociology departments of Yanjing Univer-
sity (now Beijing University), Jinling University, Lingan University,
Fudan University, Qili University, Tsinghua University and Furen
University (Lei and Shui, 1991).
Stage 2: Americanisation versus Struggle for One's
In this stage, social work education in Asian countries were either
heavily Americanised or tried to struggle for their own uniqueness, ac-
cording to their own political and social contexts. For countries like
India, that were open to Americans, they were heavily influenced by
American social work development. For those countries t h a t were
heavily shaped by their own unique political changes, like the rise of
nationalism and totalitarianism in J a p a n and communism in China,
they tended to isolate the American influence.
Social Work Education in India
The second stage (1948 to 1980s) was the period after Independence in
India in which social work education took shape under American influ-
ence. After Independence, social work education flourished. In 1950,
another school of social work was established in the University of
Baroda. Several others came into being, including one in Madras (now
Chennai) and Lucknow in 1954 and another in Mumbai in 1975. By
1975, when the Second Review Committee for Social Work Education
appointed by the University Grants Commission undertook a survey,
there were 34 institutions of social work in the country. Within this pe-
riod, social work education in India was highly Americanised. First,
under the influence of US Government's Technical Cooperation Mis-
sion and Council of Social Work Exchange Programme, faculty mem-
bers of Indian schools of social work studied in the USA. American
books and journals were extensively used in Indian schools of social

52 Kam-Shing Yip
work (Nagpaul, 1986). Furthermore, under the American influence, in
this period, there was an introduction of specialisations in social work.
However, social work education and practice were confined to curative
and remedial measures (Mandal, 1995).
Social Work Education in Japan
In 1933, J a p a n withdrew from the League of Nations and started on the
path towards nationalism and totalitarianism. From 1933 to 1945, the
end of World War II, social work and social work education in Japan
was temporarily suspended. The first school of social work in J a p a n
was started in 1946, which later developed into the J a p a n College of So-
cial Work in Tokyo. In 1950, Doshisha University in Kyoto set up the
first Master's Degree programme in social work. In 1955, the Japanese
Association of Schools of Social Work (JASSW) was organised with nine
schools of social work. Under the umbrella of the JASSW, social work
and social work education regained momentum to develop in the com-
ing decades.
Social Work Education in China
After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, social work
education ceased under intensive political movements (Yuan, 1988).
Social work practice and education were regarded as weapons used by
capitalist Americans to pollute the minds of followers of communism.
Political ideologies in terms of Marxism and Maoism were regarded as
the source of power to resolve all kinds of social and individual prob-
lems. This stage lasted from 1949-1976.
Stage 3: Searching for an Indigenised Model
In this stage, Asian countries tried to escape from the influence of
Western countries, especially from Americans. They tried to formulate
their own models according to the challenges within their own cultural,
political and social contexts — for example, a drastic increase in popu-
lation especially the aged population, the problems of poverty, and so-
cial as well as economic development
Social Work Education in India
The third stage was a period (1980s to present) in which social work ed-
ucation in India responded to the inadequacies of the curative model
and developed into a promotional and reformative model (Mandal,
1995). After the 1980s, scholars in India began to beware of the over-
whelming influence of American social work. Kulkarni (1993) argued
t h a t professional social work in India should have a distinct model of its
own, in spite of adopting and adapting from other countries. Mandal
(1995) proposed that Indian social work education should put more
weight on the unique social condition in India. The social development
orientation should be stressed to cater to the demands of social

Asian Challenges to Globalisation of Social Work Education 53
deprivation and social reform in India. The social development orienta-
tion can be included in three types of subjects. The first will include
those subjects, which help in the understanding of the society and of the
individual in the broader context of the global trend and movement.
Second, social work educators should teach subjects which concentrate
on the change process and on the whats and whys of this change, as well
as the how-tos. This will be the course on method. Third, social work
should deal with planning, decentralisation, technology, irrigation,
family planning and a substantial reorientation of the traditional fields
of practice. This will require a reorganisation of theories, which would
involve inclusion of topics on cultural history, methods of change, social
philosophy, political sociology, environmental sciences and others
(Gore, 1981; Mandal, 1995). Finally, a promotional social work model
should be advocated so as to promote equality, social justice and human
rights in India (Mandal, 1995; Ramachandran, 1989).
Social Work Education in Japan
Drastic economic development in J a p a n meant several challenges for
social work education. First, Japanese people lived the longest in the
world. There was an insurmountable need of care the elderly. Second,
starting from the 1970s, there was a student movement against West-
ern influence. Activist students demanded revision of their social work
curriculum thinking that it was too Western. The liberation movement
also shook the traditional Buddhist and Confucianist values and total
submission to authority, family and country. Young mobo and moga
(modern boys and girls) were rebellious and frustrated. Also, the highly
competitive commercial life made the Japanese highly vulnerable to
stress. The competition for seats in the 'good' universities is very fierce
and aspiring students have to study hard for many years to enter the
universities of their choice. Admission to 'good' universities is treated
as the only gateway to a good career. As for social work, 39 universities
and colleges are currently members of the JASSW. The total number of
students in social work courses or departments in those schools is esti-
mated to be around 13,000. Eleven junior colleges are also members of
the JASSW. There are many other colleges that offer training for child
care workers, but these are not members of the association (Maeda,
1995). Social work education in J a p a n has to face the growing challenge
of problem in an affluent, but highly competitive, society with increas-
ing aged population and a rebellious, lonely and frustrated young gen-
eration (Maeda, 1995).
Social Work Education in China
In the 1980s, the open door economic policy of China encouraged the
re-establishment of social work education. In .1989, Peking University
launched its social work programme at both the undergraduate and
postgraduate levels. It was gradually followed by other universities and

54 Kam-Shing Yip
cadre training colleges in China (Yuan, 1998). In 1998, the number of
institutional members of the China Association of Social Work Educa-
tion increased to 37 (Wang, 1998). Social work education in China faces
several challenges. First, China is still a socialist country in which
Marxism and socialism are dominant political ideologies. These politi-
cal ideologies may be in conflict with the ideologies of social work, espe-
cially in equality and dignity. Second, China is still deprived of
indigenous research and curriculum, textbooks, as well as trained pro-
fessionals and social work educators. Third, there is a great diversity of
needs and social conditions in China. Though urban areas are develop-
ing rapidly, the r u r a l areas are deprived. On the one hand, there are
fast growing problems in suicide, substance abuse, marital problems
and crime. On the other hand, there is an urgent need of social and com-
munity development in rural and deprived areas (Yuan, 1998). Finally,
cadre schools and the Civil Ministry are the fundamental units in social
welfare and social work education. Most of these units are highly politi-
cised and bureaucratised. Social work professionals in China have an
uphill struggle in both social welfare services and social work education
(Wang, 1998).

Apart from the Western influence in social work education, in particu-
lar the USA, social work education and social welfare development in
Asian countries are influenced by their unique cultural contexts. The
traditional cultures of Asian countries are profound and complicated.
Confucianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism have influenced the values
of many Asian countries (Doi, 1956; Enriquez, 1992; Ho, 1989 and
1995; Ho, Peng and Lai, 2001; Naito and Gielen, 1992; Paranjpe,
1998). Nimmagadda and Cowger (1999) asserted t h a t Hinduism still
continues to extend a crucial influence on all Indians. In Hinduism,
dharma literally means duty or one's obligations and expectations.
Any individual's dharma encompassed his/her whole life: duties to-
wards family, community, society and occupation. Karma is the belief
t h a t your actions in one life will affect all your other lives after that
one (Collins, 1987: 980) Faith in karma, which means one has what
one deserves, tended to increase the acceptance of Indians towards
poverty and sufferings (Nimmagadda and Cowger, 1999). Similarly,
in Chinese Buddhism, one's suffering and fortune in the present life
life was pre-determined by one's own deeds in previous life (Ho, 1998;
Lin, Tsang and Yeh, 1995; Yip, 1999 and 2001). This form of thought
even further developed into the Three Lives Book (samsinshui). Ac-
cording to this, one can read his/her previous life, the present life and
the next life. Similarly, in Chinese Taoism, one is advised to be free
from the temptation of the secular world and be integrated with the
dynamic Dao in the Universe. For the Chinese, the law of nature

Asian Challenges to Globalisation of Social Work Education 55
governs everyone in the forms of fung shui (water and wind), Yin and
Yang (Shadow and Sun) and Wui Hang (the five elements of: metal,
wood, water, fire and earth) (Lin, Tsang and Yeh, 1995; Yang, 1988
and 1997; Yip, 1999). Instead of advocating for individual rights and
achievement as in the Western culture, under the influence of Bud-
dhism, Taoism and Hinduism, Asian people believe t h a t one's own
fate is pre-determined by the laws of n a t u r e and what one did in
his/her previous life (Doi, 1973; Ho, 1998; Lebra, 1976; Nimmagadda
and Cowger, 1999).
Furthermore, Asian culture has always stressed on collectivism in-
stead of individualism. In Filipino culture, unlike the English word
'other', kapwa is not used in opposition to the self. Instead, kapwa is the
unity of the self and the other and implies a shared identity of the inner
self. Variants of the notions of shared identity may be found in other
Asian cultures as well. Concept of selfhood and identity in Confucian-
ism, Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism, in contrast to the West, are not
marked by a sharp self-other demarcation or individual identity (Ho,
1995 and 1998). Undermining this is the family orientation of Asian
cultures. Yang (1995) stresses that under the influence of Confucian-
ism, the Chinese are accustomed to a family orientation. This orienta-
tion has six basic components: family harmony, family solidarity,
family prolongation, family prosperity, family honour and
pan-familisation. The Chinese subordinate their personal goals, inter-
ests and welfare for the sake of their families (Yang, 1995). In Hindu-
ism, dharma tells us that all human action must conform to the eternal
order that is all prevailing. Maintenance of order and justice is achieved
through dharma. It can be interpreted as a concept or a duty for indi-
viduals as well as for institutions. It also provides elaborate guidelines
for a delineation of duties for different castes. Entry into a caste is de-
termined by birth and changing one's caste is not possible
(Nimmagadda and Cowger, 1999: 264). Similarly, under the Confucian
heritage, a relational orientation also appears in Japanese and Korean
cultures. Japanese constructs that have received research attention in-
clude amae, which means 'to depend and presume upon another's be-
nevolence' (Doi, 1956; Ho, 1998). It also implies a debt or obligation (Ho,
1998). Choi, Kim and Choi (1993) conducted an indigenous analysis of
the Korean constructs woori (an inclusive group: we or us) and cheong
(human affection). Their results illustrate a relational mode of the
group in which cheong, acting like an emotional glue, binds its mem-
bers together (Ho, 1998; Choi, Kim and Choi, 1993). Although moderni-
sation by Western cultures in Asian countries are wide and drastic,
traditional cultures still have a very significant impacts on Indians, Fil-
ipinos, Chinese, Japanese and Koreans and other Asians (Choi, Kim
and Choi, 1993; Doi, 1956 and 1973; Enriquez, 1992; Ho, 1998; Naito
and Gielen, 1992; Nimmagadda and Cowger, 1999; Paranjpe, 1998;
Yang, 1995).

56 Kam-Shing Yip
The impacts of globalisation of social work education are influenced by
the globalisation of technology and economy and the globalisation of the
American culture. In fact, globalisation is a multifaceted phenomenon
in which technological innovation, particularly in communications, has
played a vital role (Midgley, 2000:15). Global economic activity speeds
up global integration of cultures, population and knowledge from vari-
ous parts of the world. It facilitates the influence of social work practice
and social work education from the USA and the UK to other countries.
It also speeds up exchanges of wisdom, experiences and knowledge of
social work practice and social work education around the world. The
interaction due to globalisation of social work education, globalisation
of technology, and the globalisation of culture is shown in Figure 1.
Within these inter-factorial influences, there are many dynamics and
challenges to the globalisation of social work education.
FIGURE 1: Challenges in the Globalisation of Social Work Practice and Social
Work Education
Homogeneity versus Diversity
Within the globalisation movement, social and cultural contexts in
every country are no longer homogenous; instead it is influenced by
the globalised American culture. Also, globalisation of information
technology and economy facilitates cultural exchange among different
countries. One can easily access Japanese, Chinese and Indian food in
American and even European countries. Also, globalisation of econ-
omy, transport and information encourages the mobility of population
around the world.
Based on T.H. Marshall's idea of social citizenship, Drover (2000) ad-
vocated that there are three essential components of new social citizen-
ship in a global era: active citizenship, extra statism and diversity. An
active citizenship concerns not only rights, but also caring. Rights
emphasise the learning of rules and abstract principles to guide and to

Asian Challenges to Globalisation of Social Work Education 57
prioritise h u m a n relations. Caring stresses on moral sensibilities and
social context in the assessment and satisfaction of human needs. Ex-
tra-statist is a citizenship t h a t transcends borders. Individuals are free
to leave their country of origin to settle in other countries (Drover,
2000). That means, individual rights and responsibilities or even mo-
rality are affected by a trans-cultural delineation across boundaries of
countries. Therefore, different cultures, especially Asian cultures may
have different interpretations of social work values. While Western
countries emphasise individual rights in social work values, other
countries like those in Africa and Asia may stress on caring and respon-
sibility. Finally, diversity, including cultural diversity, and gender are
an essential part of a new social citizenship. Cultural communities pro-
vide the wherewithal within which responsibility, candour and trust,
common interests, and action toward the betterment of society are also
learned. Under these influences, social work education and social work
practice can never be fixated to the homogenous Western interpreta-
tion of rights, equality and justice. Instead, it should embrace various
interpretations from different cultural contexts. In the same way, social
work practice interventions cannot be confined to a Westernised inter-
vention model; rather, it should embrace different practice wisdom
from different ethnic groups. Diversity of social work education, in fact,
came from multifaceted fields in every country. There is great diversity
in the roles of social workers, models of social work practice and social
welfare services, qualification and training of social workers around
the world (Watts, 1995).
Universality versus Specificity
Under the influence of the globalisation of economy and culture in vari-
ous countries, the tensions and debates in international social work and
cross-cultural social work can be roughly divided into two camps of ar-
guments — the universal orientation and the specific orientation.
Within the universal orientation, social work practice and social work
education are regarded as universally applicable to different social and
cultural contexts. Mayadas and Lasan (1984) asserted that despite di-
versity of different cultural and social contexts, social work in many
countries still focussed on the betterment of human life, especially
those with disadvantaged population (Kendell, 1987; Mayadas and
Lasan, 1984; Watts, 1995). Social work around the world seems to
struggle amongst the control of government, social inequality, gap be-
tween theories and practice as well as socio-political change in the soci-
ety (Cox, 1995 and 2000; Watts, 1995).
Within the specific orientation, social work practice and social work
education should vary according to different social and cultural con-
texts. Kendall (1987: 988) asserted that there was no universal pattern
of social work education, and even within countries, a variety of models

58 Kam-Shing Yip
may coexist comfortably. Within these two polarities, various degrees
of differences can exist. They are:
1. Social work practice and social work education should be univer-
sally defined and applied to different countries. Countries
around the world should adopt these definitions and models with
slight adaptations to their own cultural and social contexts. Vast
and great deviation from these definitions and models may imply
t h a t practice models in certain countries cannot be labelled as
'social work'.
2. There should be some universal components in social work prac-
tice. Apart from these similar components, different countries
should evolve their own models according to their cultural and
social contexts.
3. There are no universal components in social work practice and
social work education. Every country should evolve its own prac-
tice and education models.
In bridging the gap between universal n a t u r e s and local specific na-
tures in social work education and social work practice, Life (2000) sug-
gested that a strong link can readily be made between h u m a n rights,
which can be regarded as universal, and human needs, which can be
relative. No longer can we think globally, act locally. But, rather it has
become necessary to think and act at both the local and global levels,
and to link the two (Life, 2000).
Independence versus Interdependence
Under the drastic influence of globalisation of economy and
globalisation of culture, an individual country can never be independ-
ent from the influence of other countries. Instead, the politics, econ-
omy and social life of every country is interdependent with those of
other countries. The same applies to the globalisation of social work
practice and social work education. Rowe and others (2000) conducted
an international survey on 45 social workers affiliated with the Inter-
national Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). The sample included
social workers from different regions of the world, fields of practice,
and gender. The results showed t h a t it was important to recognise
t h a t the definition of social work differed greatly across cultural con-
texts (Payne, 1998; Rowe and others, 2000). The professionalised con-
cept of 'social workers', especially those social workers who provided
individual clinical services, originated in Western industrialised
countries, but most societies have always had a role for individuals
who worked to improve the conditions for their fellow community
members. While clinical practice may be more characteristic of indus-
trialised countries, community organisers in Western countries have
learnt many of their strategies and skills from their peers in develop-
ing countries. The study also showed t h a t three values were held com-
mon for the by social workers, regardless of their countries of origin —

Asian Challenges to Globalisation of Social Work Education 59
respect and appreciation for difference, commitment to social justice
and well-being of all in society, and willingness to persist despite frus-
tration. Nearly all respondents agreed t h a t globalisation had facili-
tated exchange between social workers from different countries. Some
social workers used international conventions on social, political and
economic rights, to add more weight to their work, as well as to break
down activist isolation in demanding change (Rowe and others, 2000).
Vigorous Exchange in Social Work Education
Globalisation of social work education and social work practice facilitates
vigorous exchanges in various countries, especially those in Western and
Asian countries. First, international church organisations such as the
Young Men's Christian Association, the Young Women's Christian Asso-
ciation, the Scout Associations, and the Lutheran Church affiliations, di-
rectly import Western social work models into other countries and at the
same time, reflect the needs and social conditions in these countries to
mother organisations. Second, many social work scholars and senior
practitioners in Asian, African and South American countries have grad-
uated from renowned universities in the West. They have then trans-
planted Western social work into their own countries. They also serve as
the link for Western social work academics to explore the situations of so-
cial welfare and social work education systems in these countries. Third,
situations in various countries are quickly shared through the Internet.
Also, social work courses can be taken in the form of distance learning
through web-based teaching (Sandell and Hayes, 2002). Fourth, migra-
tion, movements occur from less developed countries to better-developed
countries. Worldwide population movement is facilitated by speedy
transportation, global economic activities, as well as frequent political,
social and cultural exchanges among countries. Lastly, international or-
ganisations like the IFSW, International Association of Schools of Social
Work (IASSW), and the International Council of Social Work facilitate
exchange of social work in various countries through mutual visits, aca-
demic conferences, journals and published books (Tan and Envall, 2000).
Asian Homogeneity versus Diversity
All Asian countries face several challenges due to the globalisation of
economy and globalisation of social work education. First, they are
densely populated as compared to their Western counterparts. More of
their populations are facing social deprivation and inequality due to the
problems of economic globalisation (Cox, 1995 and 2000; Drucker, 2000;
Kulkarni, 1999; Life, 2000). Second, their culture and traditions are
profoundly different from those of the Western countries (Cox, 1995;
Mandal, 1995; Wang, 1998). It seems t h a t social problems and social

60. Kam-Shing Yip
welfare services in Asian countries have their own uniqueness due to
their own socio-cultural contexts. Many Asian countries like India and
China are still strongly influenced by their profound traditional cul-
tures. Third, despite the drastic economic changes and the impact of
globalisation, input of resources in social work education in Asian coun-
tries is still comparatively less t h a n in the West. Though there is a
growing demand for trained social workers and social work educators,
many Asian countries still have to use untrained or para-trained social
work professionals in service (Cox, 1995).
Apart from these similarities, however, the Asian countries are very
different in terms of race, religion and ethnicity. They are in various
stages of economic development ranging from highly affluent countries
like J a p a n to economically poor countries like Indonesia and the Philip-
pines. The more affluent countries may have more resources and poten-
tial to develop better social work training and education.
Universality versus Specificity
Due to the globalisation of economy and social work education, all
Asian countries face the following challenges:
1. Due to the tension of globalisation of technology, information
technology and economy, affluent Western countries very often
regard under developed, but highly populated, Asian countries
as new potential markets to source for cheap h u m a n power and
natural resources to exploit in manufacturing their productions.
2. They are universally influenced by the globalisation of social
work, in particular the powerful document 'Global Standard for
Social Work Education' jointly proposed by the IFSW and
IASSW. This document intends to globalise Eurocentric social
work definitions, functions and curriculum with insufficient con-
sideration of cultural, political and social diversity in other coun-
tries, particularly Asian countries (Yip, 2004).
Nevertheless, they may have their own specific response to all these
universal challenges. For example, more Westernised countries like
J a p a n and Singapore with better information technology and economy
may have a higher potential to develop their own social work education,
and nurture their own welfare system. However, less developed coun-
tries like Indonesia and the Philippines may have less potential to nur-
ture their own social work education and social welfare system.
Asian Independence and Interdependence
Asian countries face challenges for independence as well as interdepen-
dence due to the globalisation of economy and social work education. In-
dependence implies sufficient resources, power and autonomy to cater
to the needs of its citizens and formulate a just and equal society. Inter-
dependence implies not only dependence on other affluent Western
counterparts in economy, technology and education, but also with good

Asian Challenges to Globalisation of Social Work Education 61
exchanges and mutual support among Asian countries themselves. In-
dependence in Asian social work education implies t h a t Asian coun-
tries are able to formulate their own social work education in training
professional social workers working within their own cultural contexts.
Interdependence in Asian social work education implies t h a t Asian
countries should also be open to recent developments in Westernised
countries and exchanges among Asian countries themselves.
Asian social workers and social work educators have to respond appro-
priately to the challenges of globalisation.
Eurocentric Social Work versus Asiacentric Social Work
Instead of relying on the American social work education and social
welfare models, which may not be suitable for the unique socio-cultural
context of Asian countries, it is the time for Asian countries to consoli-
date and develop their own indigenised social work practice and educa-
tion models. These models should combine both Western practice
models with traditional Asian cultural heritage and wisdoms. This
would help Asians to resolve their psychosocial problems. Second, in-
stead of relying on the knowledge and wisdom from the West, social
work and social work education in Asian countries should cultivate the
traditional wisdom from its own cultures. In fact, up to now, Hinduism,
Buddhism and Confucianism still affect most Asian population (Doi,
1956; Enriquez, 1992; Ho, 1989 and 1995; Ho and others, 2001; Naito
and Gielen, 1992; Paranjpe, 1998). It is crucial t h a t social work practice
and social work education include all these traditional wisdom in
Asiacentric social work practice.
Eurocentric Social Work Education versus Asiacentric
Social Work Education
Social work education in Asian countries should include the following
subjects in the curriculum for formal social work training to formulate
Asiacentric social work education within their social, cultural and polit-
ical contexts.
1. It should include subjects about the development of interna-
tional social work around the world. Asian students should not
confine their knowledge only within the social work models and
social work education development in the USA and the UK. A
global view of social work and social work education in other
countries can widen their perspective in reflecting the develop-
ment in other Asian countries.
2. It should include subjects of Asian traditional cultures. In fact,
many Asian traditional cultures have their own wisdom and per-
spectives in interpreting human integrity, human rights, human
interaction, and human equality. They all have their own way of

62 Kam-Shing Yip
perceiving the meaning of life and ways to handle human prob-
lems. By means of equipping social work students with traditional
wisdom, they can gradually evolve their indigenous practice.
3. It should include analysis and knowledge about the impact of
globalisation of economy and technology. Social work students in
Asian countries should be equipped with the knowledge and sen-
sitivity on how these globalisation movements have influenced
the lives of Asians.
Social Work Education Exchange among Asian Countries
It is interesting to note that exchange of social work practice and social
work education usually happen between Western countries and Asian
countries rather than among Asian countries themselves (Life, 2000;
Midgley, 1981 and 2001; Rowe and others, 2000). Very often, this sort of
exchange seems to be an import or learning from the experiences of so-
cial workers and social work educators from Western countries like the
USA, Canada and the UK (Mayadas and Elliott, 1997; Midgley, 1981).
In fact, exchange of social work and social work education among Asian
countries is crucial due to the following reasons:
1. Asian countries share, to a certain extent, common cultural val-
ues, like respecting the laws of n a t u r e belief in the
pre-arrangement of one's fate in previous life; familial and rela-
tional orientation, rather t h a n individualism, individual rights
and individual actualisation as in Western countries.
2. Compared to the West, social work and social work education in
Asian countries may be at an earlier stage of development.
Sharing the puzzles and experiences in this stage of development
within the Asian cultural and political contexts may facilitate
better ways for future development.
3. Politically and economically, Asian countries are interdependent
on each other. This interdependence may mean more common in-
fluence on the development of social work and social work educa-
tion among Asian countries.
4. Different cultures tend to define social work and social work edu-
cation differently. It is better to share different perceptions and
experiences in formulating the natures of social work and social
work education within Asian cultural contexts. A straight adap-
tation of definitions from Western social work and social work
education may not be suitable for Asian cultural contexts.
5. Better exchanges of authentic social work experiences among
Asian countries may be more fruitful and productive in the consoli-
dation of social work and social work education in Asian countries.
Promise in Asian Social Work Education
A better developed Asian social work and social work education will not
only benefit social welfare development in Asian countries, it will also

Asian Challenges to Globalisation of Social Work Education 63
hold promise to social work and social work education for other coun-
tries. First, the re-conceptualisation and articulation of Asian traditional
culture in social work education and social work practice can actually
spark indigenised wisdom in working with Asian cultural backgrounds.
This wisdom can be shared by social work educators and social workers
in multicultural countries in working with Asian minorities. Second,
many social work practices in Asian countries, especially those in work-
ing with social deprivation, poverty, and human inequality (Life, 2000),
can be shared with social workers in other countries. Third, Asian tradi-
tional wisdom, like Zen and Taoism, actually has profound implications
for human beings to face hardship, sufferings and interpersonal con-
flicts. This wisdom has a lot to contribute in enriching social work inter-
vention, psychotherapy and counselling (Brandon, 1976). Furthermore,
the experiences of social work and social work education have a lot to
share with their counterparts in South America, East Europe and Africa.
Finally, social work and social work educators in Asian countries should
work hand in hand with their Western counterparts in resolving prob-
lems in worldwide migration movements, infectious diseases,
globalisation of economy and technology, and substance abuse problems.
In conclusion, this article is a discussion about the impact of globalisation
of social work education in Asian countries. The development of social
work education in China, India and Japan has been reviewed. The appro-
priate responses and promise of Asian social work education in the future
are suggested. In fact, under the globalisation of technology and economy,
migration and population movement, Asian countries are no longer sepa-
rated from their Western counterparts. The East and the West are inter-
dependent on each other in working with social problems of global nature.
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