Service with a professional touch
IT IS an institution that many pass by in the course of their travel to and fro - it sits by the corner of Casa Major Road, Egmore, like a reminder of the past. It's been there as far as the residents of Chennai are concerned for as long as they can remember and use it as a landmark when it comes to direction. But then it means much more than that.
It is 50 years since it was set up and all through these years it has sent out people trying to make a difference to the community and society at large.
The Madras School Of Social Work (MSSW) is the fifth institution of its kind to be established in India capturing the history of the first decades of social work education in India. The Indian Council For Social Welfare and The Guild Of Service established MSSW under the guidance of the committed leadership of the founder Mary Clubwala Jadhav. She spared no efforts and surmounted many difficulties to set up the first ever school of social work in the south. Affluent and involved with many charitable institutions in Madras, Mary Clubwala Jadhav understood the need for professionally trained social workers to deal with the many complicated and challenging problems in independent India. Today it has an alumni of 2,500, the members occupying key positions in non-governmental organisations for welfare and development. ``It is 50 years but there is still a lot more to do. With the Golden Jubilee celebrations, we want the community to know what we have achieved so far, '' said Mr. K. N. George, Director /Honorary Secretary.'' ``One of the things the institution seeks to do is to create an awareness about social work as a profession. And drive home the fact that these are people who can make a difference in any field because of the human aspect.''
The other thing MSSW would like to do right through this celebration period is to dwell upon the role of volunteers - their contribution and how they can be provided orientation to make sure they get the maximum out of their work. Yet another area that is going to be taken up is the sensitisation of students to the problems of the community. For instance, education. All this they hope to achieve through special lectures by eminent personalities and social work practitioners, seminars and conferences, workshops, rural camps and training programmes. A commemorative volume containing articles from scholars of India and abroad with social work as the theme, a souvenir and a two-day cultural fete in which social work students form all over India will participate as well as be entertained are on the anvil as well. Outstanding staff and students from the school will be honoured for their contribution to social work.
The school which has initiated several welfare projects in Madras as well as the surrounding rural areas, is working towards joint programmes with universities abroad during the Golden Jubilee year along with programmes already in existence with social work departments in a few of the American and European universities. According to Dr. D. Varadarajan, Principal, MSSW, an international seminar on conflict resolution -- peace development, will focus on ways and means bringing peace in the world. The other major gathering is the Association of Social Workers of India which will provide a forum for discussions on trends, solutions and developments in the field.
According to Lalitha Natraj, co-ordinator for the year long programmes and Nalini Rao, member of the faculty and in charge of the cultural events, the celebration will take off with a talk by Kiran Bedi, Joint Comissioner, Police Training, Police Training College, New Delhi on March 16 at the school premises at 11 a.m. Though officially the Jubilee Year starts only in August, the convenors hope it will mark the beginning of meaningful introspection.
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