Research for development
The new "East Africa Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Work" (CRISOWO) was launched in the Ugandan capital city Kampala at the end of February 2017. It is the outcome of a bigger project on the promotion of professional social work in East Africa (PROSOWO) which is financed by the Austrian Partnership Programme in Higher Education and Research for Development (APPEAR) and coordinated by the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences. The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) contributes 390 000 Euros to the follow-up project PROSOWO II.
Platform for knowledge and dialogue
The Centre has its office on the campus of Makerere University, but it is mainly a virtual hub for social research and academic exchange amongst the countries of the East African Community. "Our vision is to create sustainable structures", explains Helmut Spitzer, project manager and professor for social work at the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (Austria). "In the long run, we hope to see a cross-fertilization between the practical and academic world, which in the end will benefit the local population", he adds.
Within the framework of the projects PROSOWO I and II, a number of publications about social work have already been published. More than 38 schools of social work throughout the East African Community use these publications in their daily work. "In that way, the future generation of social workers is thoroughly prepared for the challenges outside the classroom", says Spitzer. In addition, regular meetings with social-policy makers are being organized in order to discuss innovative strategies to reduce poverty and to protect vulnerable groups within the region.
Apart from Makerere University whose Department of Social Work & Social Administration serves as the coordinating entity, the Centre is backed by the following higher education institutions: University of Nairobi (Kenya), University of Rwanda, Institute of Social Work (Tanzania), Hope Africa University (Burundi) and Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (Austria).
The official launch of the Centre was part of a regional consultative forum on "Social work, social policy and human rights in East Africa" that brought together social work scholars, educators, practitioners and representatives of national associations from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Austria, and USA.
In June 2018 a symposium on PROSOWO II will be held in Carinthia (Austria) and the next international social work conference in East Africa will take place from 20th to 22nd March 2018 in Kigali Rwanda.