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The Buddhist Approach to Social Work in Sri Lanka

Social Work in Sri Lanka has been slowly progressing and even after 68 years it is in its infancy despite the facts that the country needs productive social work. Research studies and social work scholars believe that the mismatch of the prevailing social work approach with the country’s socio-economic culture is the reason for the slow progress. Western-rooted social work started in Sri Lanka in 1952 under the guidance of Western social work scholar Ms. Dorathy Moses, the Principal of the Delhi School of Social Work by setting up an institute to conduct social work education programmes. Social work education, which began with a certificate course in social welfare, now offers degree and postgraduate courses, but it has produced only 1,677 social workers over 69 years. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country. Its social culture encourages philanthropy based on Buddhist values inculcated in the philosophical background of Buddhism. However, the prevailing evidence indicates that western-rooted professional social work does not address the full scope of social work needs of the Sri Lankan society. Therefore, the present research hypothesizes that a friendly social work approach based on Buddhist values is a better fit and it can easily be internalized in the Sri Lankan society. The objective of this study is to identify a new approach to social work in Buddhism that is relevant to Sri Lanka. This paper is based on the study of relevant social work literature, analysing both, primary and the secondary sources (data). This study may be important for scholars who are interested in the field of social work, and also for social workers as well as for students of social work.

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Omalpe Somananda
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Journal article - open access
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