Egypt

  • Profile
    • Population: 100 million
    • 58% live in rural areas
    • Majority of urban dwellers have rural homes
    • Main language is Arabic
  • Training institutions of Social Work (7)
    • Faculty of Social Work, Helwan University
    • Faculty of Social Work, Assiut University
    • Faculty of Social Work, University of Minia
    • Faculty of Social Work, Alexandria University
    • The Higher Institute of Social Work in Cairo
  • Publications
    • Egyptian Journal of Social Work (EJSW)
  • Associations
    • General Syndicate of Social Professions in Egypt || النقابة العامة للمهن الاجتماعية في مصر
  • Publications
    • Egyptian Journal of Social Work (EJSW)
  • Did you know that?

The Islamic law in Egypt forbids the western form of adoption of a child. This is done to maintain a clear bloodline in families, something that is important in all African countries. This makes it easier for family values, customs, beliefs and inheritance to be maintained. The law also protects innocent children from human traffickers, unsuitable adopters and racial challenges associated with adoption. Children adopted across races, usually adopted in white families, end up being acculturated, forced to adopt white culture and values, and their bloodlines will be completely lost from their families. Fostering is allowed but they are very good laws about who can be fostered and who can foster. First priority for fostering is with the extended family, it is not even called fostering, it is family responsibility. In one shocking incident, a US couple, aged 40 and 70, were assisted by a Christian Church and Christian orphanage to forge papers to enable them to adopt twins in Egypt. The US authorities had already refused them to adopt an American because of the age age of one of the spouses. With the help of the Church and orphanage, they made birth certificates to show that the 40 year old had given birth to the twins. They paid US$4,600 to buy the twins. They even gave the children English names, Victoria and Alexander. the changing of names was a form of acculturation, changing the children’s identity. But they were caught and ended up in jail for two years plus a fine of US$18,200. Other couples were also caught. The orphanage was closed and several other people including a nun, a doctor and administrators were arrested and jailed for trafficking and forgery. This has happened elsewhere, including in Malawi where Madonna adopted in unclear controversial circumstances. There are importance lessons in all this, including decolonisation against old and new forms of racial dominance.

History of social services and social work

The phases and services in the development of social services in Egypt provided in this section. Acknowledgments: (Hoda Badran, 1971, Social work programs in Egypt and El Nasr and Eltaiba, 2016, Social Work in Egypt: Experiences and Challenges).

El Nasr and Eltaiba (2016) gave three stages (1) transmission or imitation where social work from western countries was imitated (2) indigenization (3) authentication but the ASWNet has aggregated six stages. Megahead said there are two types of social work in the country “There are two types of social work in Egypt: namely traditional social work and modern social work. Traditional social work is reflected in social solidarity among family and community members. It is also seen in the religious form of charity (zakat or/and sadaka). The Wakf (endowment trust), whether Islamic or non-Islamic, also contributed to the social work system in Egypt. Due to historical developments, this traditional social work has been weakened or suspended (Hussein, 1954). Modern social work includes social work practice and social welfare policy. Social work practice is defined as ‘the organized activity that aims at helping to achieve a mutual adjustment of individuals and their social environment”, (2012, p. 281).

  1. Indigenous charity and social welfare services: “Professional social work in Egypt started only in 1936 when the first school of social work was established, but charity and social welfare services have been offered and known in Egypt since the Pharaohs ruled”, Badran (1971, p. 25). Colonisation impacted on the different methods of social services provided but Egyptian families and communities. Egypt attained economic independence in 1932, but the British remained influential to Egyptian kings and cabinets.
  2. Pre-professionalisation (1900-1935): voluntary social welfare services were provided by sectarian agencies for Moslems, Christians or Jews. Non-religious organizations provided health (hospitals) and education (schools). Settlements were established beginning 1931, this idea having been brought from America. Government offered social services like financial aid, free meals and regulated employment of women and children. Financial aid was provided by the Ministry of Awkaf (Endowments).
  3. Inception of social work profession (1935-1952): this period saw rapid urbanization and industrialization in Egypt and expansion of education, and with it massive rural-urban migration, growth of unemployment and social dissatisfaction. Workers who were not trained provided social services . However, during this period, social work training institutions were opened, these being, Greek Community School in Alexandria in 1936 and the Egyptian Association for Social Studies in Cairo in 1937. In 1939, the Ministry of Social Affairs was established and it employed trained workers. Services provided at this time included rural community development centers, casework and research and treatment of juvenile delinquency. But these measures did not end social problems of hunger, delinquency, unemployment and social discontent, and government responded by introducing a a social security program that involved monthly pensions and temporary assistance. Agencies that emerged during this period provided casework. As Badran 1971, p. 27 said, the casework was irrelevant, “Casework was the prominent method. Professionals who had studied in the United Sates of America imported many concepts from there. Freudian concepts dominated social work education, and students graduated with an orientation which proved inappropriate for masses of hungry people.” Surprisingly, Sigmund Freud’s psychology is still being taught in African schools of social work today inspire of its shortcomings in explaining African psychology. In 1940 the Higher Institute of Social Work which admitted only women was founded and in 1960 it admitted men. in 1970, it became a faculty of Helwan University.
  4. The revolution (1952): The army seized power in 1952 and the monarchy was abolished. The government’s goal to raise standard of living of the masses saw expansion in education (free education), citizenship education or consciousness, agrarian reform, industrialization, income control, nationalization and improvement of welfare. Welfare services started to get recognition and improve. For example, in 1953 a Council of Public Welfare Services was established, in 1955 a social insurance scheme was started, voluntary agencies received government subsidies and were regulated, and the rural community development centers were enlarged to units that combined services from different ministries and agencies. Social work education improved and trained social workers increased , with Master and Doctor of Social Work programs starting in 1969. In 1977, a postgraduate diploma in social work was introduced for those who had studied sociology.
  5. Post revolution: On top of rural development and youth welfare, social work expanded to include family and child welfare; income maintenance; and rehabilitation. Specific services include family planning, family counseling, nurseries, foster and boarding homes for children and delinquents.
  6. Arab-spring era: Social services and social work were impacted by the Arab spring. El Nasr and Eltaiba (2016, p. 4) said “After January 25th 2011 and June 30th 2013 revolutions and the masses agitated for bread, dignity and social justice, the role of social workers were transformed. The revolutions called for social workers in Egypt to take a more influential role and become more active in political movements and politics in order to help to bring about changes in the political, social, and economic arenas”.

Preventive Social Work

Professor El Nasr, a key figure in the development of social work in Egypt promoted preventive social work. In 1996 he published a book in Arabic titled Preventive Social Work that was used by some universities for teaching.

Spirituality in social work

Professor El Nasr elaborated and supported the role of spirituality in social work. El Nasr and Eltaiba (2016, p. 4) said “Spirituality has become an area of interest in the general public and in social work education in particular. Since social workers are committed to a whole person in environment perspective, and as such should to take a bio-psycho-social- spiritual view. This is why some writers consider the social work as fundamentally a spiritual profession. There is an increasing interest in approaches that utilize cognitive, physical, emotional, and spiritual components in assessment and treatment [48]. A number of studies have also appeared in the professional literature advocating for the inclusion of spirituality in both social work education and practice. The focus on including the teaching of spirituality and religion in the curricula is deemed as necessary, as religion plays a central part in Egyptian culture. In Egypt and most Arab nations, many social services are provided through the religious form of charity or ‘zakat’/‘sadaqa’ and ‘waqf’ (endowment trust). Also, there has been an effort to reintroduce religion and spirituality as tangible constructs into social work education and practice. There is growing research literature that explores the relation between Islam and social work practice and that examine how Islam functions as an important source for formulating principles, ethics, and values for social work, such as democracy, acceptance, equality, cooperation, altruism, respecting the dignity of human beings, understanding the 9 human diversity and rejecting discrimination [51,52]. It is noteworthy that adoption in Islam is unacceptable in Islam and therefore proposing such a practice in Egypt is problematic where the dominant faith is Islam. However other child care provisions such as foster families and child care institutions are acceptable in Islam. However these efforts to promote an Islamic approach to social work have faced many difficulties and obstacles such as the lack of social work educators and practitioners’ limited knowledge on this subject and its application to practice.”

American programs and objectives were heavily imported, with minor adaptations. All through both stages, social work efforts were primarily concerned with reforming the individual, whereas the problem lay within the social institutions. The social work curriculum was a replica of the American schools with major emphasis on psychoalaytically-oriented casework. Graduates were not equipped for the real needs of society (Badran, 1971, p. 32). Community development should be emphasized, and other methods should be refashioned to meet the needs of the developing country (p. 33).



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