Last May, the III Macaronesia Congress of Social Workers, (SW) was held in Cidade da Praia ( Santiago Island ) and it was organized by the “young” Cape Verde National Association of Social Workers.
This meeting joined the Azores ( PT) ; Madeira ( PT): the Canary Islands ( SP) and Cape Verde Islands. Through this meeting, these countries have tried to share knowledge, practices and build cooperative interventions in view of new answers to the local social problems, facing future challenges.
The Congress theme – Social Work: Human Rights, Justice, and Social Inclusion, was developed through a very interesting and opportune program with the participation of competent presenters among SW mainly from Cape Verde, but also from the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands.
Very detailed information was shared about the local SW history conciliating mixed influences from colonial times until nowadays ( Cape Verde`s Independence from Portugal was in 1975). It was possible to understand new knowledge, research, and innovative interventions in Cape Verde, from a critical view developed by the youngest and less young Social Workers. They have debated Social Policies, opened new fields of intervention, reflected and evaluated the local Social Work according to Human Rights, and Social Justice applying it in practice, in view of social inclusion. They have debated the most emergent issues in the Health Services; Education, Justice, Local Administration and new trends of Social Work Sustainability.
Those Cape Verde SW are very aware of the issues concerning SW education and SW teachers` training. They try as much as possible to update their knowledge exchanging it with some International Universities and welcoming social scientists. Some of them have reached MD and also Ph.D. trying to bring their colleagues to a new academic level. The Cape Verde Piaget Institut, the Law, and Social Sciences Institut and the State Cape Verde University are the institutions in charge of educating future Social Workers as Bacherelors. It often happens that some years after the Bacherelors, they go abroad to achieve a higher academic level.
The newest problems come from some criminal groups related to drug trafficking that are emerging. Also, a lot of poor female single families, as well as handicapped or elderly people with health problems with not enough sustainable support. Housing seems to be a significant problem. The younger men are looking for a better life abroad, because of the poor standard of economic activities and lack of jobs. The majority that stays are farm workers selling their goods in makeshift markets or untrained factory workers or they are working in public services. It is important to point out that the rate of illiteracy is low, due to their Educational policies. More recently the Tourism industry offers new opportunities for stable jobs, but this requires formal training.
Cape Verde has their own specific gastronomy, very rich music, and dance, which are known worldwide. We realize that their social relationships are a bit similar to some European countries, and this country is considered one of the most democratic countries in Africa, because they are trying to organize themselves, in order to answer to their fundamental needs.
The Macaronesia I was held in 2005, in the Azores (S. Miguel – Ponta Delgada) under the theme: Thinking about Global Intervention and 200 Social Worker participants attended.
The Macaronesia II was held in 2016, Madeira (Funchal) which was more related to SW Intervention and the European model. This event was attended by almost 80 participants. Some speakers also came from Portugal ( European Continent) and with the participation of the President of the Portuguese Association of SW (APSS) just like in Macaronesia I.
The next step will be to compile and publish the conclusions of Macronesia III and to prepare the next Congress that shall be held in the Canary Islands, supported by the Consejo General de Trabajo Social from Spain.
The International Federation of Social Workers has participated in this event with the representative to the Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP) EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), and she alerted the participants regarding the importance of a wider International interchange, since we think that Cape Verde Islands is one of the most promising countries on the African Continent which was demonstrated by their SW Association . Cape Verde Social Workers are open-minded, considering Social Work fundamental values realization, the guidelines are the orientation for encouraging strategies to put SW on the top.
Let`s be aware and congratulations Cape Verde!
Lisbon, 25 May 2019
Graça Maria André
IFSW Europe e.V.
Representative to the Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP)
EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)