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What happened to field practicum in social work education during COVID-19? Evidence from Bangladesh
Field practicum is an integral part of social work education, and students of bachelor's and master's levels need to gain the requisite experience of field practicum to achieve the degrees. Like many practice-based disciplines, social work has been facing enormous challenges in arranging field practicum during COVID-19. This qualitative study aims to understand the experiences of social work faculties, students, and agency representatives for field practicum in the time of the COVID crisis in Bangladesh. Four public universities having social work schools were selected purposively and a total of 18 in-depth interviews and four Key Informant Interviews were conducted with different stakeholders related to field practicum. The study finds that though theoretical classes were conducted using online platforms, students faced many hurdles in completing their field practicum. Several innovative strategies, such as community-based field practice, delaying completion of field practicum, reducing daily working hours, etc. were followed to adapt to the new normal situation. This pandemic seemed to be a lesson for everyone to think of an alternative arrangement for field practicum, such as developing a flexible curriculum, virtual fieldwork, community-based field practice, field meetings, concurrent fieldwork, etc.