Social Work and Its Effect on Poverty Essay

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world. ” South African families and communities are facing many challenges. This essay will focus on poverty as one of the challenges in some South African families and communities in general. Using the issue of poverty, will clarify and give a better understanding on how, social workers could respond to this matter. In the international definition of social work, “the social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being.

Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments (IFSW, 2012). Before addressing the situation at hand, social workers need to firstly recognize poverty in South Africa and why it is happening. Such as the factors of why people are living in poverty, these factors include but are not limited to lack of education, inequality and unemployment.

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Poverty is “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor. ” (Merriam-Webster, 2012) Many South African’s are dealing with the situation of poverty not by choice but because of their community and their surroundings. Looking further into poverty in South Africa and some of the causes gives a better understanding on where social workers can apply their own knowledge in aiding in an improved way of living.

Rather than looking at poverty as a whole, breaking it down and tackling situations leading up to poverty will provide an all-around enhanced response from social workers. If education fails to improve the issues faced in South Africa will remain and will not progress in anyway. Currently, South Africa’s education system is ranked 133rd out of 142 countries by the World Economic Forum. This ranking has basically put South Africa’s education system as one of the worst in the world.

It has been researched that: “The South African economy’s increasing appetite for highly skilled labour, its continued mechanisation of manufacturing and industrial processes and its pursuit of international competitiveness mean that lower-skilled and poorly educated workers are likely to bear the brunt of unemployment. ” (Bhorat 2003; Oosthuizen 2003 & Hodge 1999) Social Workers can contribute to the resolution of education by empowering individuals and families dealing with poverty by giving them the means and elp with education by opening learning centres that provide skills and also basic educational needs that can contribute to one’s ability in the working force and in life in general. There should be an increase and equal access to social services for those who are financially able and those who are not. Social workers need to help provide opportunities to help people living in poor situations to enable their capabilities and improve their economic and social conditions. Adding on to the information of education and its connection to poverty, inequality also plays a part.

Though, inequality in South Africa is not as apparent as it was during apartheid it is still an issue and factor that contributes to the unemployment leading to poverty in South Africa. In South African history, because of apartheid, different rights were given to those according to race while using the colour of one’s skin to limit opportunities available to each racial group. Social workers ought to advocate for those facing poverty due to racial discrimination or due to the effects of apartheid, by identifying that human rights are essential to everyone.

According to Cox (2006) Social workers have a responsibility to ensure that social conditions that influence economic inequalities and unreasonable practices are challenged and eliminated. Understanding this and these rights can provide social workers with the knowledge to organize and promote economic and social development for those who are underprivileged. In conclusion, social workers’ role in the eradication of poverty is brought to life by their role in advocating for disadvantaged people affected by poverty and other situations.

By responding to the poverty problem, the social workers become the agents of change that enhance community development and human relations while empowering and liberating people in need of support. As a result, the community and society become more involved in education, economic, social, political and cultural activities towards poverty due to the efforts made by social workers to improve this issue and many others that are being faced in South Africa.

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