Who we Are
Twinning for Health Support Initiative, Nigeria (THSI-N) was established by the American International Health Alliance (AIHA) as its local Nigerian partner organization in February 2014. AIHA operated a representative office in Enugu State since 2009 and transitioned same and its Nigerian programmatic activities to be managed by their new local entity, THSI-N with the following objectives:
- To support twinning and technical assistance for health and social service systems strengthening and capacity building in Nigeria;
- To support the Government of Nigeria’s effort in creating a sustainable high quality and accessible health system in Nigeria;
- To increase the number and improve the quality of community-level social workers who work with vulnerable children.
With support from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and CDC/Nigeria, in 2008 AIHA implemented a partnership focused on strengthening services to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) through the creation of a para-social worker (PSW – now known as Auxiliary Social Work (ASW)) pre-service training program. As a community-based cadre of lay professionals, ASWs receive basic foundational skills in social service delivery for OVCs that enable trainees to broadly access communities, triage care, and effectively provide basic support to children in need. AIHA’s HIV/AIDS Twinning Center Program supported partnerships with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), and the Federal School of Social Work, Enugu (FSSW) with both institutions playing a leadership role in developing the ASW workforce to address the most critical needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria.
WHAT WE DONE SO FAR
Led by Save the Children, the USAID-funded STEER (Systems Transformed for Empowered Action and Enabling Responses for Vulnerable Children and Families) project, works to improve the wellbeing of OVC in Northern Nigeria. AIHA/THSI-N supports the project’s social welfare workforce strengthening through ASW curricula adaption to the Northern context and roll out of ASW training in the region.
Led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the USAID-funded SMILE (Sustainable Mechanisms for Improving Livelihoods and Household Empowerment) project is designed to scale up care and support services for OVC in the states of Benue, Kogi, Edo, Nasarawa, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). AIHA/THSI-N supports the project’s social welfare workforce strengthening through ASW curricula adaption to the states context and roll out of ASW training in the states.
- Auxiliary Social Work Institutionalization Program (ASWIP)
Twinning for health support initiative got funding from Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through CCCRN to implement auxiliary social work institutionalization program in five focal states (Enugu, Benue, Cross River, Kaduna and Federal Capital Territory) in Nigeria. Specifically, the project aimed at:
a. Institutionalization of Auxiliary Social Work in Institutions of Higher Learning
THSI-N In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWASD) introduced the Auxiliary Social Work certificate program to institutions and agencies not previously offering the program. As a pilot phase of increasing the number of lower skilled cadre in social welfare workforce serving in local communities to alleviate the workload and sustainability with ownership at the end of the project funding, institutionalization of the Auxiliary Social Work certificate training in Nigerian Institutions had been critical to the heart of this project. With the signing of MoUs with Benue State University and Federal School of Social Work, Emene in November, 2017, we are certain that these institutions will continue training more people with the basic skills required to serve in social welfare.
- Auxiliary Social Work Curriculum Development
Auxiliary Social Work Curriculum development is a very important component of institutionalization of social work in Nigeria. THSI Nigeria developed a standard curriculum that will meet the needs of our contemporary social issues and social problems. The curriculum covered all segments and aspects of social work approaches, techniques, skills and knowledge of social work practice, which were used for training of social workers at certificate level. The program focused on basic social work and child development skills that empower community-based workers and LGA based social welfare officers to improving their ability to identify, assess, engage, and link those in need to existing care and support services. The curriculum introduced Auxiliary Social Workers to the basic concepts, processes, and helping skills that underline all interventions with children, families and communities, thus providing a foundation for effective intervention with this population.
The conceptual framework for the curriculum was based on the case management model and course content as organized around Social work skills to the following steps:
- Case identification;
- Engaging clients;
- Developing and implementing a plan of services;
- Identifying service resources; and
- Monitoring and documenting services.
The Auxiliary Social Work training curriculum gives community-based workers a basic knowledge of:
- Social work practice
- Human behavior and development in the social environment, especially focusing on vulnerable children, families and communities; and
- HIV disease including prevention, counseling and testing, treatment access and
issues, and related familial, social, and community advocacy.
The material for each day included a brief description of the module, the purpose of each activity, presentation materials, skills to be acquired, learning activities and exercises to allow participants to practice the skills, and guidelines for presenting the material. THSI also included use of visual aids for practical recording of real life situations, case conferences, etc.
- Capacity Building of Social Welfare Officers
During the project implementation period, 110 field social welfare officers from department of social work within the five focal states of Benue, Cross River, Enugu, FCT and Kaduna, were trained with the developed Auxiliary Social Work Curriculum. Program participants were equipped with professional skills and with access to professional training, supervision, and ongoing support. Care providers who completed the program are being helped to bridge the gap between the extent of the need and the availability of trained social workers in Nigeria.
- Review and Harmonize BSC Social Work Curriculum
There had been no unified standards for BSc social work studies in Nigeria over the years. Individual universities set standards as they deem fit. This has resulted in disharmony in the courses taught and credits required in order to qualify on any of the programmes.
To integrate all social work degree awarding institutions into the mainstream of international best practices, THSI Nigeria worked with stakeholders of social work including the National Universities Commission, Nigerian Association of Social Workers and Nigerian Association of Social Work Educators, to harmonize the training curriculum for Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work and development of the post graduate curriculum. With the funding from CDC Nigeria, THSI-N, worked with NUC and stakeholders of social work to take care of gaps identified during the workshop for social work institutions. Challenges identified were addressed by reviewing, harmonizing and standardizing the BSc Social Work curriculum, validation and adoption. Modern trends were incorporated and international best practice adopted. This curriculum is now being used by all offering social work education in Nigeria.
- Institutional Strengthening
Lack of appropriate and adequate equipment and facilities in institutions had always been a great challenge for students during studies. THSI bridged this gap by strengthening training institutions of social work and making available current updates in areas of social services. Piloting with two institutions: Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State and Federal School of Social Work, Emene, Enugu, THIS provided sets of ICT equipment: Projector and Screen, Laptop, All in one Printer, Generator, UPS, Desktop Computers, Chairs, Desk, LCD Television and Flip Chart Board to the schools through the funding from CDC Nigeria.
- Scale Up/Continued Advocacy of institutions offering social work studies
THIS-N together with the federal ministry of women affairs and social development, national association of social workers and national association of social work educators, constituted a strong advocacy team to advocate to universities to scale up training of social workers in order to bridge the national gap of shortage of social workers.
This team visited at fourteen universities round the country, namely:
- University of Lagos
- Lagos State University
- University of Ibadan
- Obafemi Awolowo University
- University of Benin
- University of Calabar
- University of Ilorin
- Ladoke Akintola University of Technology
- Federal University Lafia
- Nassarawa State University
- University of Jos
- Ebonyi state university
- Enugu State University of Science and Technology
- Nnamdi Azikiwe University
These visits yielded instant results as it enabled the institutions to make inputs in the reviewed curriculum and ensured they will start its implementation immediately. They pledged commitment to training more social workers to bridge the gap in social work practice in Nigeria.