Unregulated Social Work Practice in Botswana: A Risk to Professional Integrity and Clients’ Welfare

Main Article Content

Kgomotso Jongman
More Tshupeng


Through professional regulation, the aspirational goals of the Code of Ethics is to become a legal obligation with enforceable accountability for public protection. The professional regulation does not only protect the public but also gives integrity and respect to the profession. Social workers are licensed and they always know that malpractice may lead to losing their registration and licenses. The above is a reality in many countries, while in Botswana, after 74 years since the first social welfare officer started to work in the welfare department, the country has not yet established any regulatory body. Even though the regulation might not be a guarantee for ethical practice, but it is better to have a framework that can be used to regulate in terms of monitoring and evaluating practice. The education and practice of social work is unregulated and has left a vacuum where, anybody who government deems to be eligible can be employed as social worker. The above statement is buttressed by the Children’s Act, 2009 section 2, which says, ‘a social worker is a person who holds a qualification in social work, or such other qualification as may be prescribed, and is employed as such by government or such other institution as maybe approved under this Act and any other law’. This has brought challenges in dealing with values, principles and standards of social work, teaching and practice in Botswana [1]. The complaint is that social workers are unprofessional and not adhering to their own code of conduct. From the complaints, the assumption is that social work has a code of conduct as a heling profession. The reality is there is no code of conduct and there is no licensure in Botswana. This paper is a narrative of examples of cases where social workers were deemed not adhering to their professional ethics and not providing service to the most vulnerable at the time of need. These stories are used as a yardstick to argue for the establishment of an ACT of parliament which will establish the council of social work. The council will be a regulatory body of social work.

Social work, ethics, council, regulation.

Article Details

How to Cite
Jongman, K., & Tshupeng, M. (2020). Unregulated Social Work Practice in Botswana: A Risk to Professional Integrity and Clients’ Welfare. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, 33(4), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.9734/jesbs/2020/v33i430212
Original Research Article


Government of Botswana. Children’s Act, Government Printers, Gaborone; 2009.

Syers M. Flexner, Abraham, encyclopedia of social work. National Association of Social Workers Press and Oxford University Press; 2013.

Jongman K. Foretelling the history of social work: A Botswana perspective. IFSW, Berne; 2015.

Weiss DJ, Nelson A, Gibson HS, Temperley W, Peedell S, Lieber A, Mappin B. A global map of travel time to cities to assess inequalities in accessibility in 2015. Nature. 2018;553(7688):333-336.

International Federation of Social Workers. Ethical Standards, IFSW; 2018.

Smith SS. Reproductive health and the question of abortion in Botswana: A review, African Journal of Reproductive Health / La Revue Africaine de la Santé Reproductive. 2013;17(4):26-34.

Kang’ethe S. Critical coping challenges facing caregivers of persons living with HIV/AIDS and other Terminally III Persons: The case of Kanye care program, Botswana. Indian J Palliat Care. 2009;15(2):115–121.

The Midweek Sun Newspaper. Social welfare dept. fails residents. The midweek sun; 2012.

Sunday Standard Newspaper. Social grant department hit by fraud. Sunday Standard online; 2012.

Rwomire. The role of social work in national development. Social Work & Society, University of Duisburg-Essen, Center for Social Work and Social Policy; 2011.

Johnson EJ, Huggins CL. History of the social casework method. In: Social Casework Methodology: A Skills Handbook for the Caribbean Human Services Worker. Springer Briefs in Social Work. Springer, Cham; 2019.

Popple PR, Leighninger L. Social work, social welfare, and American society. Allyn & Bacon; 2004.

Kang’ethe SM. Exploring the awarding of incentives to care giving productivity in Botswana. Maatskaplike Werk. 2011; 47(1):1-14.

Mwansa LK. Social work education in Africa: Whence and whither? Social Work Education. 2011;30(1): 4-16.

Dolgoff R, Loewenberg MF, Harrington D. (eds). Ethical decisions for Social Work practice, Brookes Cole, Belmont; 2009.

Sommers-Flanagan R, Sommers-Flanagan J. Becoming an ethical helping professional; Cultural and philosophical foundations, John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2007.

International Federation of Social Workers. Global Definition, IFSW; 2014.

Ornellas A, Spolander G, Engelbrecht LK. The global social work definition: Ontology, implications and challenges. Journal of Social Work. 2018;18(2):222–240.

Carey M. The fragmentation of social work and social care: some ramifications and a critique. The British Journal of Social Work. 2015;45(8):2406–2422.

Thomas ML, O’Connor M, Netting FE. A framework for teaching community practice. Journal of Social Work Education. 2011;47(2):337–355.
DOI: 10.5175/JSWE.2011.200900081
[Taylor & Francis Online]

Brady SR, Moxley D. Plurality and fragmentation in social work: Analyzing the implications of flexner using a philosophy of science perspective. Journal of Social Work Education. 2016;52.

Banks S. Professional ethics in social work—what future? [Online], British Journal of Social Work. 1998;28:213-231.

International Federation of Social Workers, Ethical Standards Code, IFSW; 2018.

Banks S. Ethics and values in social work (ed), Palmgrave Macmillan, New York; 2006.

National Association of Social Workers. NASW standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice, NASW Press, Washington DC; 2001.

Strom-Gottfried K. Ethics in social work practice: A primer, McGraw-Hill, Boston; 2006.

Botswana National Association of Social Workers. Constitution. Gaborone, Botswana: Botswana National Association of Social Workers; 2001.

Jongman K. The future of social work in Botswana, The UK Guardian; 2014.

Gray M. Developmental social work: A ‘strengths’ praxis for social development. Social Development Issues. 2002;24(1):4-14.