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The Evolution of Social Welfare and Social Work in Nigeria

Abigail Olubukola Irele


This paper focused on the evolution of social welfare and social work in Nigeria. It traced the historical trajectory of social work from the missionary period through the colonial period to the present day. The paper gave a vivid picture of how individuals who were philanthropists contributed to the evolution of social work and social welfare programmes in Nigeria. The missionary groups who initiated welfare programmes in Nigeria were the Salvation Army and the Roman Catholic Church. In addition “a philanthropist in person of Mrs. Obasa, a Nigerian provided an orphanage for girls (the girls approved institution in Nigeria up to 1967, was named after her)” (Jack, 1999:3). The colonial period also saw the strengthening of social welfare programmes in Nigeria and the person who was a dominant figure during the colonial period was an expatriate Mr Faulkner. The paper also discussed the spread of social welfare programmes to the regions in Nigeria and how it spread to the various states in Nigeria when they were created. The spread to the regions started in Lagos and spread to the various regions later viz Western, Eastern and Northern regions. In the various regions the social welfare programmes and social work were located in the Social Development Division in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and were manned by untrained social workers. Later when the states were created social welfare programmes were put under the ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. The paper discussed the training of professional social workers in some tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The paper concluded by looking at the future of social welfare and social work in Nigeria. It predicted a bright future for social welfare and social work in Nigeria because of the myriad of problems that would crop up in future in Nigeria due to rapid urbanization and this would bring about social problems which would have to be dealt with by trained social workers.

LWATI: A Journal of Contemporary Research, 8(3), 238-252, 2011

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eISSN: 1813-2227