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Department of Social Work celebrates 60th anniversary

24 September 2012

(From left) Prof Tan; Mr Wong Ngit Liong, Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees; Mr Nathan; Mrs Ann Wee, Associate Professorial Fellow of the Department of Social Work; Dr Rosaleen Ow, Head of the Department of Social Work; and Prof Brenda Yeoh, Dean of the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Mr Nathan delivering his speech during the gala dinner

Students, faculty members, alumni and representatives from the social work community gathered to celebrate 60 years of the NUS Department of Social Work on 21 September. Marking the anniversary celebration were a symposium, the launch of the S R Nathan Professorship in Social Work, and the unveiling of the book Ebb and Flow: 60 years of Social Work Education in Singapore.

Speaking during the gala dinner, former Singapore president Mr S R Nathan noted that the challenges ahead for social work lie in encouraging more people to take part in community problem-solving and meeting the needs of families who are disadvantaged by the changing social and economic circumstances.

"We have a role to play in drawing attention of the community not only of the existence of today's problems but also to urge others to take ownership, address and do something about them," said Mr Nathan, a social work alumnus. He added that "the more helping hands we have the better".

NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, who launched the Professorship, said that it will allow the University to "bring in renowned academic leaders to advance social education and research among scholars in Singapore and Asia on issues related to social development, poverty, family development and asset building."

During the symposium earlier in the day, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence Mr Chan Chun Sing shared about the aspirations for social workers and the social work profession in Singapore.

These included building stronger linkages between social work educators, social workers and policy makers; promoting lifelong learning among social workers with funding for further education; and improving the prospects of the profession. Mr Chan examined the various points against the backdrop of globalisation and Singapore's ageing population.

Moving forward, the Department of Social Work will be looking at consolidating graduate programmes such as student exchange for Masters and Doctoral students with partner universities. High calibre faculty staff will also be recruited to enhance teaching. The Department will particularly focus on Asia Pacific, forging closer relationships with institutions in the region.