Searching for a capacity building model in social work education in China

Hok Bun Ku, S.C. Yeung, P. Sung- Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This paper contains our reflections about our experiences in employing a capacity building model for training social workers to conduct community development work in rural China. Unlike the conventional approach to social work practicum, our approach advocates an educational practice of capacity building; not only for local people and learners, but for educators as well. It stresses that the educator should assume a non‐expert role in relating to his/her students so that the students will do the same with local people. We challenge the concept of the social work educator as an expert because it gives a teacher the power and authority to dominate students, which disempowers students during the learning process. In the same vein, we challenge the desire of social work students to become experts in rural development, which in turn disempowers local people from taking charge of the future direction of their lives in rural China. The capacity building approach subscribes to a critical pedagogy that calls for a re‐invention of self by challenging tradition and culture, and by developing academic knowledge, the habit of inquiry and critical curiosity about society, power, inequality, and social change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-233
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Capacity Building
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Oral History
  • Rural Social Work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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