Wednesday, August 26, 2009

my first graded assignment :|

Name : Prasant Mohanty

Date : 26.08.09

Roll No. : 2009SW089

Agency : CIDCO, Navi Mumbai

Target Group : Adolescent boys & girls

Age Group : 14 -16yrs

Location : Dapoli - Pargaon High School, Taluk Uran, Dist. Raigadh

As disappointing as it may sound, the closest I came to a group work in my earlier profession was making business proposals worth thousands of dollars for clients that I was never going to see or meet. Apart from the monetary aspect, the only intent for opting to work in group was to do a humongous job faster and easier. With the commencement of the field work at TISS, came the realization of breaking the mould that I had in mind about groups and to adopt a strategy that was fresh and rejuvenating. Fate had to be fair to me for I was allotted to a field work agency that had to deal with some of the most underrepresented faces of modern Mumbai – the Project Affected Persons of Navi Mumbai. In the current setting, group work has the potential of becoming a strong tool of information dissemination and sensitization primary because of the following two basic reasons :

(i) In terms of the no. of PAP's that can be impacted by the program in the short period of the program

(ii) Since it is in synchronization with the syllabus set for the MSW course, there is a strong possibility to link theory to practice in real time

The Kurland Model

Having done all the talking, there is one last thing that I would like to point out before outlining my plan for the group work. While going through a reading given to us and then linking the model to the bits and pieces of the odd plan, I realized that my plan might not be as robust as the ambitions it attempts to achieve.

“The model is meant to guide the worker's thinking throughout the planning stage. It presents areas for worker consideration, decision and action; but it is not meant as a checklist. In fact it is unlikely that the worker will ever be able to resolve completely the many issues that each component of the model raises”[1]. With the hopes that I will do justice to the model, I have put the details of the each component of the model in the following eight points and constructed the model in Figure No. 1 given here.

{1} Identifying Social Context

The target community that I am looking at is a subset of the larger population consisting of original inhabitants of Navi Mumbai. It bears representation to a population of the so called 'Project Affected People'(PAP) that came into being when CIDCO started displacing people from the mainland on the eastern seaboard of Thane Creek in the early 1970s to accommodate its plan to absorb the rapid growth of Bombay. (Between 1951-61 Bombay's population rose by 40% due to various favoring reasons). Thus started the planning and execution of one of the biggest planned cities of the world that currently consists of 14 nodes.

But why are PAPs the targets of this group-work exercise?... It might be interesting to know that while PAP's were rewarded huge amounts of money for their contribution, they were not given any support in re-building their communities to decent standards. With so much development happening around them and the lack of attention given to them, the PAPs felt betrayed, trapped and excluded. The pattern of movement of PAPs can now be seen as packets of shanty settlements amongst big housing projects in the whole of Navi Mumbai. This fact finding or realization dawned upon CIDCO years later when it started facing resentment from the PAP communities. Since then CIDCO has undertaken numerous projects for the welfare of those PAPs.

One such project is the school in Pargaon that CIDCO has helped construct and renovate from time to time. This school is for the children of the PAPs. Students in the school are from the lower socio-economic strata and go on to be dependent on local industry to earn livelihoods. The group work is going to include boy and girl students in the age group of 14 to 16yrs of age. Since the school has Marathi & Hindi as medium of instruction, all the students are well versed in both the languages.

{2} Needs Assessment

The full gamut of client, agency and worker needs should be examined as a first step in any analysis. If clients do not perceive the group as meeting their needs, they will not attend. If workers are forced to run groups that they do not find fulfilling their participation may slacken... The needs of the agency must also be met to encourage an atmosphere of acceptance of the group”[2].

The need cris-crosses the interest of the three parties: the agency, the group and the group worker. And the needs fit into the bigger context of holistic development and change of outlook. Please refer to the Figure No. 2 given in the adjacent page.

Development in terms of attitude of the all the three parties towards each other and possibly to factors that are external to the scope the group work (for example a deeper understanding of the agency about needs of the student group w.r.t vocational training options to invest in).

In my field setting the need that I have identified is as follows : to improve the personality of the group in ways that are favorable for the group members to secure livelihood opportunities once they members are of age and to equip them with the knowledge of all the various available livelihood options and vocational training that they can pursue in Navi Mumbai.

{3} Identification of Purpose

The identification of purpose is most potently done by putting oneself in the shoes of the clients, the group members i.e. The students have had a difficult childhood and have had natural problems with education owing to slow learning tendencies & malnutrition. Also because of their rural & semi-agrarian background they have to deal with domestic violence and possibly sibling rivalry. So all these factors act as a catalyst in depressing favorable leadership and personality traits. A noticeable nature of the purpose is in its dynamics. This could be elaborated by quoting lines from one of the works of Sondra Brandler. “Goals will be redefined and evaluation will be constant throughout the course of the group, but the initial explorations of purpose must be clearly stated”[2]. My purpose for the group-work is : to instill a heightened level of awareness about the livelihood options that a young pap student can choose from and to improve one's personality to harness those options.

{4}Considerations regarding Compositions

The group will consist of 15 members. Since the group composed of students from the same setting (class 9th of the Dapoli Pargaon School), it will be a closed group. The activity will proceed with the same group as there is very little chance of a group member to drop out. The group activity will be administered by one male group worker who is a student social worker and this will be his true experience in working solo on groups. As stated in the beginning of the writing, the group members will consist of adolescent boys and girls in the age group of 14 to 16yrs old. Its already been noted that the ratio of boys to girls in the class is almost same. So there will be equal representation of both boys and girls in the group. In his earlier observations, the social worker has seen the perspective students that are being considered for the group-work are extremely agile and interested in activity based learning. This apart they share common habits in languages they speak, educational qualification and socio-economic background. What the differ in is the IQ levels and characteristics related to behavior like the ability to communicate and personal preferences of style; and possibly career interests too.

{5} Establishment of Structure

The group-work has been structured to fit into 15 contact field work days. Each day will ideally have one group session lasting about one hour in duration. The group sessions will be held in a convenient hall that can facilitate group activities with ease. This group-work service is going to be delivered absolutely free of cost and will be done in consent with the school authority and the agency.

{6} Methodology in Pre-Group Contact

Pre-Group Contact in the case of this group-worker largely involves taking the class and the school authority into confidence before engaging the class for the group sessions. The purpose of the exercise is conveyed to them and once this is achieved, the students of the class that fit the profile of the group are formed and a small orientation of the group-members is done. Apart from the interaction, this includes a bit of rappot-building as well (more about it in the Content section). Norms will be formulated in the process and variations to it if any will be normalized and agreed upon.

It is also very important for the class -teacher and the principal to assure the students to devote their attention to the group-worker before the exercise commences. This will instill a sense of faith and responsibility in the group-members.

{7} Identification of key Content

The group-sessions will start with ice-breaking exercises involving limited no or props like a ball of a piece of handkerchief or simple use of voice etc. The games are interlaced with rapport building exercises where the group-members come to know more about the group-worker and as well as the other members of the group. This strategy is to be interlaced with the purpose of the group-work and in sync with the needs of the students. For Exp, a exercise of passing the ball where in the first person at which the ball stops will introduce himself and roll the ball. The next student will introduce himself and also tell 2 things about the previous person.

As the group-workers starts building rapport he will slowly introduce the exercises that will tend to move the group towards the objectives, These will include activities like recreational games, poster making, discussion, a skit representing an issue and involving the group-members, screening movies and documentaries, and a competition.

The whole idea is to bring a concept of rewards, strengthening of motive and role model into the group.

To strengthen the delivery and motives of the whole group-work each exercise will give opportunities for ample interaction amongst all the members of the group including the group-worker. Brainstorming becomes a tools for forming perceptions about issues and taking a stand on them.

The nature of the games only warrants the use of basic materials like stationary materials for art and craft, props for recreational games and audio visual aids.

All the activities and sessions with have strong objectives consistently linking the group with purpose and objective of group-work.

{8} Examination of Agency Context

CIDCO is primarily a state interest institution brought into being to take control of the infrastructure crunch that Mumbai has been facing since a long time. It is primarily involved in providing for housing, industries and infrastructure in Navi Mumbai. It offers housing societies for sale at prices that are subsided. This motivation is to move as many people away from mainland Mumbai as possible to de-congest Mumbai and to create a second hub of industries and corporations outside city to facilitate the ample development potential of Mumbai. For this elaborate state infrastructure (Railways, roads, space for industries etc) is already in place in Navi Mumbai. Since the time CIDCO started operating and interfacing with indigenous Navi Mumbai communities, a lot has been said about them and a lot has been critiqued and praised. As a state agency CIDCO bears the moral responsibility of judiciously including social welfare objectives in its activities. This obligation pushes the social welfare department to design and implement programs for the PAP communities. Apart from the basic mandate of social welfare the other prime objective of its activity is to form, improve and modify the attitudes of the people towards CIDCO, in ways that strengthen relations between communities and the state and to easily facilitate any development activity in Navi Mumbai that may warrant eviction of PAP's in future. The community appeasement motive is a approach of getting the agency's work done without significant resentment and resistance. The prime stakeholder of my agency is the Government of Maharashtra. There are several other forces that act in this like the land mafia, the real estate contractors and political figures (at panchayati and municipality and state level).

The Systems Theory : Linkages to the Kurland model

The basic reason for me to choose System's Theory was because I could find strong connection of the group-work with the concepts underlined by the theory. The Diagram will illustrate the concept of a system in the setting given to the group-worker. The group which is one of the many operating in the bigger supra-system (the School), consists of the 15 students and the group worker; and forms the OPEN SYSTEM. It accepts inputs from the external environment and the other systems operating around. The Group forms the focal point in the larger scheme of things. On day one of the group session the objectives will be discussed and boundaries for the group are set by fixing norms and conditions for the group to operate in. This also includes setting standards of ethics and code of conduct when in the group and when out of the group. All the norms and conditions are to be mutually agreed upon by all the group members. This forms a important parameter for pattern maintenance in the group. Each student of the group; and the group-worker forms a subsystem. Changes in group behavior, group attitude and attitude in the individual sub-systems may contribute to a +ve or -ve feedback and affect the equilibrium and quality of the group. Please allow me to illustrate the importance of equilibrium through practical examples.

The use of visual media is high on my agenda. I want to use a short film or documentary to assert the importance of being future ready. These mediums have impact on the psychological being of the group-member and can potentially disturb the condition of equilibrium. He/she may develop anxiety after such a session and might or might not share it with fellow group members. This may upset him/her and the anxiety may spill out to other members. This behavior can be understood by the concepts of linear and circular causality. In such a case the actions of the group worker and the other group members may subsequently increase/decrease the amount of anxiety (for exp : it may increase when a group member/the group-worker reassures the group-mate and it may decrease when a very confident group member flaunts his/her qualities that have made him future ready).

Also in my case, this group which is an open system has a possibility of the seeing some members exiting the system under extreme conditions. For this a pre-exit conditioning program is to be followed to reduce anxiety of the member who is supposed to go out and the group-members as well. This is one way group-members can handle the art of adaption. To summarize, these kinds of group exercises are necessary since the conditions that will be induced are favorable to promote group cohesion and integration. They become a medium for the group to know the group members, learn from them and contribute to the process of maintaining equilibrium. In an open system since there are external inputs (audio visual media in this case), the equilibrium is termed to be quasi-stationary i.e. even though there is an instability induced inside the group, the group as a whole tries to be in a condition of dynamic stability through its collective actions. All these actions have one motive – to reach the final objectives of the group-work.


[1] : Teaching a Methods Course in Social Work With Groups (Strengthening Group Work Education by Roselle Kurland, & Robert Salmon, Council on Social Work Educ (June 1998)

[2] : 'Group Work: Skills and Strategies for Effective Interventions by Sondra Brandler and Camille P. Roman', The Haworth Press Inc.

[3] : Social Work Treatment by Francis Turner, Free Press(September 1996)

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