perjantai 23. toukokuuta 2014

Learning Disabilities, Whistle-blowing and Cage Homes


On the third day of the International Summer School in Social Work we got to learn about a few current social work topics in Hong Kong and Finland. Dr. Ben Law from University of Hong Kong introduced us to his special field of expertise, social workers’ role in helping children with learning difficulties along with their families. In Hong Kong social worker may be the only person to teach a dyslexic child and his or her family how to cope with learning disabilities in school and everyday life when professional help is out of reach because of low income. The topic raised good questions about what social work consists of. How do we separate problems that social workers should tackle from those that should be left to other professions? Or is such division even necessary?

Researcher Laura Tiitinen from University of Lapland presented us her research topic, freedom of speach violations, silencing and media whistle-blowing in social work. According to her study all these are phenomena that Finnish social workers face when trying to talk about and change unethical and illegal policies and social work practices. After facing silencing social workers may turn to social or mass media for whistle-blowing and often risk losing their jobs. This raised questions such as what are the true motives for silencing and what needs to be done to get the commercialized mass media interested in these topics to build public pressure and change the policies.

Student panels from Finland and Hong Kong also took place on Wednesday. Finnish students’ informative and entertaining presentation introduced various views of the Finnish welfare state, its services and their clients. Both teachers and fellow students were impressed by the Finnish students’ acting skills and rewarded them with a storm of applause. Students from the University of Hong Kong gave a very thought-provoking and shocking presentation about the housing problem in Hong Kong. Due to high population density and high apartment prices people are forced to live in inhumane conditions that risk their health and wellbeing. Lack of affordable and adequate housing prevents people from starting a family and living the kind of life they dream of. As the group pointed out having your own home is a very simple dream, yet it seems extremely difficult to realize in Hong Kong.

 The ever so lovely Team Hong Kong: Serena, Stephanie, Gilly, Julie and Kris

Meri Isojärvi, Maija Kujala and Ulla Mehtätalo from the University of Lapland

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