Social work is a profession which seeks to help and empower vulnerable groups in society such as women, persons with disabilities, children and the elderly as well as people living with HIV/AIDS. In 2000, the two professional representative bodies, the International Federation of Social Workers and the International Association of Schools of Social Work adopted the following 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. Utilizing theories of human behavior and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work (International Federation of Social Workers, 2000, para. 1).
GENESIS OF THE SOCIAL WORK PROFESSION IN AFRICA
Over the past few years, social work has expanded to virtually every corner of the world (Darkwa, 2007). Factors such as the fall of communism in the Soviet Union (Hokenstad & Kendall, 1995), the emergence of democratic institutions in Africa, and the impact of the technological revolution have all contributed to the globalization of social work. In Africa, a number of factors played an influential role in facilitating the emergence of social work. The activities of missionaries from Europe and other parts of the world, African mutual aid societies, and the colonization of the continent by external powers all contributed to social work development on the continent. The missionaries preceded the colonizers. Even though their primary role focused on addressing the religious and spiritual needs of Africans, by establishing schools, vocational training, and engaging in almsgiving and community work, the missionaries functioned as informal social workers (Darkwa, 2007). Tribal and mutual aid societies have always existed in Africa. Prior to the development of statutory welfare systems, different types of mutual aid societies across the continent provided assistance to family members. Some were family or kin-based (the largest category); others were cultural- and/or religious-based (such as rotating credit societies, and informal service societies) (Midgley, 1997). The African extended family, for example, has always operated as a social welfare system (Apte & Grieco, 1994), and they continue to address the social welfare needs of a sizeable number of Africans who lack any form of social protection. THE ROLE OF SOCIAL WORKERS IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Social work is a discipline involving the application of social theory and research methods to study and improve the lives of people, groups, and societies. It incorporates and uses other social sciences as a means to improve the human condition and positively change society's response to chronic problems. Social work is the development of the file potential of each individual, group and community in society. It seeks to simultaneously address and resolve social issues at every level of society and economic status, but especially among the poor and sick. Social workers are concerned with social problems, their causes, their solutions and their human impacts. They work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Social work as a profession or pursuit, originated in the 19th century. The movement began primarily in the England. Social work has its roots in the struggle of society to deal with poverty and the resultant problems. Therefore, social work is intricately linked with the idea of charity work. But must be understood as a distinctly different as well. The concept of charity goes back to ancient times, and the practice of providing for the poor has roots in all major world religions. However, the practice and profession of social work has a relatively modern and scientific...