The Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Guyana (UG) — in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection (MSP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and York University (YU) — has launched a Master’s in Social Work programme at the Turkeyen Campus in Demerara.Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Protection, Mohan Ramrattan, delivering the feature addressLaunched on Wednesday, August 16, the master’s programme will enable 26 social work graduates to further their studies and obtain a second-cycle master’s degree representing a high-order overview of a specific field of study.The Ministry of Social Protection will sponsor eight of the 26 students participating in the one-year programme.“The importance of Social Work cannot be underestimated,” remarked Mohan Ramrattan, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Protection. “It operates as the boundary interface between people and their social, cultural and physical environment, and is part of the template that moulds right from wrong and protects our people through institutive, administrative and other measures.”According to the Department of Public Information, Ramrattan explained that support for the programme would create a larger social worker populace, and by extension “guarantee the prevention of social dysfunction and the protection of our vulnerable and groups at risk.”Barbara Heron, the Coordinator from York University, giving her remarksThis is in keeping with the MSP’s mandate “to contribute to economic and social development by maintaining a stable industrial relations climate, formulating policies, and providing integrated employment, training, social and welfare services”.Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, quoted the poet Rabindranauth Tagore in declaring, “You cannot cross any sea simply by standing and staring at the water”. He did this as a reminder to the students and groups involved that, although the journey may be long, they should not surrender, for they are fighting for a greater cause.He also reminded the Social Workers to always be respectful, and pursue excellence.Monica Miller, Head of the Sociology Department, recalled that the journey to having such a programme began some four years ago. “This is only the beginning. We will strive to have a PhD programme,” she posited.Barbara Heron, coordinator from York University, noted that the level of organisation and support from all parties involved was overwhelming. Heron and six other professors will be lecturing in the Master’s programme over the coming months.Deputy Representative of UNICEF, Paolo Marchi, congratulated the University on this milestone, and urged the students of the programme to be committed. He also commended them for their desire to want to develop Guyana.Last year, the Ministry of Social Protection hosted a conference for social work administrators, practitioners and educators to explore thematic issues within the realm of their professional practice, and facilitated the exchange of ideas among them.Resulting from that conference, there is now a working draft of the Guyana National Standard for Social Work, a document containing research material and a list of registered social work professionals.Ramrattan reiterated that the Ministry of Social Protection remains committed to collaborating with organisations in support of social work, and to working in every area that falls under its purview for the development of Guyana.