Phase 3: Capacity Building (2001–2007)
Between 2001 and 2007, the number of universities offering a bachelor of social work or masters of social work (MSW) degree increased sevenfold across Mongolia. By 2007, a total of 877 bachelor of social work degrees and 90 master of social work degrees were awarded from more than 14 universities and institutes. The number of social work educators with a degree in social work increased by 40 per cent compared to not one educator with a degree before 2001 (Enkhtuya et al., 2008). Social work degrees expanded into specializations such as school social work, health social work, direct service, and community organizing, social work in detention centres, and so on. Social work professionals with an MSW from well-known universities overseas such as Columbia University, Pennsylvania University, and Washington University in St. Louis in the United States joined the social work community in Mongolia. Moreover, Mongolian social workers expanded their networking and collaboration nationally and internationally by forming professional associations, exchanging information and experiences with colleagues abroad, participating in conferences and forums, and becoming affiliated with international social work organizations. Thus, the third phase of the development of social work in Mongolia was characterized by capacitybuilding processes that would lead to the institutionalization of the profession (Namdaldagva, 2009).
Milestones of the social work developments in the third phase were the emergence of social workers in different sectors, sustainable improvements in the social work education system, and so on. Since 2003, the community of social work practitioners has extended in range from the public service and education sectors to other sectors of society. To date, 1,200 social workers are employed in public service agencies. Six hundred and twenty-four of them are school social workers. Social welfare agencies employ 798 people; 510 of them are soum or khoroo social workers and 102 soums and khoroos with a dense population now have two social workers; law enforcement agencies have about 70 social workers, and hospitals of third ranking have begun to hire health social workers.
Contributing developments were that professional associations grew rapidly during this period, including the Mongolian Association of School Social Workers (2001), the Mongolian Association of Social Work Educators (2002), the Mongolian Association of Professional Social Workers (2002), and the Mongolian Association of Health Social Workers (2006). These associations provided guidance for social workers in their professional development and experience enrichment, networking and collaboration, and promoted public awareness of social work and increasing the status of social workers.
The Mongolian social work profession and social work degrees have benefited from structural reforms by the government and international programs to foster educational reforms in higher education in former socialist countries.
The government approval of the Social Security Sector Master Plan in 2003 contributed to the rapid development of social work across the country. It highlighted the importance of capacity building of social protection workers and establishing a structure for social work services in the social welfare sector (MSWL, 2003).
The role of social worker in the newly established social welfare structure was expanded into nearly all administrative areas from a grass-roots level to nationally. At a grass-roots level, social workers were pivotal in the Livelihood Support Council, which made all the decisions regarding social assistance and welfare program provision for needy people and families. During the implementation of the strategy, more than 720 social workers completed social work training and obtained a certificate. A professional development training program was established for social workers in the social welfare sector on topics such as introduction to social work, social work ethics, community organization, social policy, social development, case management, social work with children, people with a disability, child protection, social work with families, and groups and special populations. Among social work practitioners, however, the number of social work professionals holding a degree remained at very low levels, comprising only 20 per cent of the social welfare workforce (Enkhtuya et al., 2008).
The Open Society Institute (OSI) Social Work Fellowship Program, the Higher Education Support Program, and the Network Scholarship Program contributed enormously to furthering social work in Mongolia. With OSI support, social work summer schools were organized and run annually. The summer schools trained a core group of Mongolian social work academics teaching in the various universities. In addition to developing a social work pedagogy, one particular key achievement
of the summer school program has been the contribution to building a common ground for social work education throughout Mongolia (Oyut-Erdene, 2009).
Topics that drew early attention included 'Development of a Code of Ethics', 'Development of Social Work Research', 'Collaboration among Social Work Schools and Teachers', and 'Core Curricula for Social Work Programs'. The issue of a core curriculum was deemed a priority, as many schools were offering social work education programs, but there was no consensus on minimum standards of basic knowledge and skills or on what content should be core to the professional curriculum (Ogborn and Humphries, 2002; Oyut-Erdene, 2004).
In addition, through the OSI scholarship program, 15 social work professionals were awarded MSWs from two US universities (Columbia University and Washington University in St. Louis), becoming the first cohort of internationally trained social workers in Mongolia. They have provided vital leadership in establishing professional associations, enhancing networking, and sponsoring professional activities. They have also been instrumental in developing a professional code of ethics, promoting professional development for practitioners, and improving field education.
The main challenge during this phase was improving the quality of social work education and increasing public understanding of the social work profession. Social work in Mongolia needed a suitable service infrastructure as well as wellformulated strategies and goals. Studies defining issues and problems in school social work (Enkhtuya, 2006) and khoroo social work services (Erdenechimeg and Amarjargal, 2007) and in social work developmental process in general (Enkhtuya et al., 2008) underscored the integrated and coordinated efforts to improve the provision of social work services, to increase the understanding of the profession by the government and the public, and the revision and refinement of regulations governing social work roles and functions, improving the social work curriculum and the integration of theory and practice.
Phase 4: Institutionalization (2007–Present)
The fourth and final phase of the development of social work education in Mongolia to date has been characterized by the further institutionalization of the profession. The main achievements of this period were the approval of social work education standards by the Ministry of Education and Mongolian Agency on Standardization and Measurement in January 2010. During these years, social work education became more systematic, more rigorous, and more specialized. The latter included curricula on, for example child protection, domestic violence, human trafficking, HIV/AIDS prevention, child labor, and advocacy (Namdaldagva et al., 2010).
Significant gains were achieved during this period in the areas of faculty development (regular training, more graduate social work degrees); curriculum development (in alignment with international standards; enhanced collaboration with local, national, and international colleagues and professional organizations; development of curricular materials; schools; and departments preparing for
accreditation); field education (training/retraining of faculty and field supervisors, academic-practice partnerships strengthened); community relations and service (cooperation with the social service community for field education, research projects, and training with manuals); awareness and interest (growth in the number of programs and student enrollment); and network building (establishment of professional teachers' community; expanded foreign partnerships; and teacher and student participation in local, regional and international conferences). The number of social work students and teachers increased to 1,600 and 70 respectively.
In addition, standards for practice in shelters, child protection services, and social work in community centres for older adults have been developed by professionals in the field (MSWL, 2011). Field education has also been developing rapidly, due to collaboration with social work colleagues from Australia, Japan, America, and the Czech Republic.
The working relationship between universities and practice organizations continues to be enhanced by the steady flow of graduates into government and nongovernmental organizations, some of whom have become field supervisors. The fourth phase of social work has also seen improvements in resources and facilities. The Mongolian Social Work Journal was inaugurated in 2009.