The social work role in the secondary schools in Saudi Arabia
The overall aim of this research is to contribute to cross-cultural knowledge and skills on the development and practice of social work in schools, by identifying and comparing the actual and ideal roles of school social workers in Saudi Arabia, ascertaining the major problems facing the social workers and learning their views regarding improvement of the counselling service in secondary schools in Saudi Arabia.The target populations of this study were third year public secondary school students, social workers in public secondary schools and officials. In order to gather data from the three groups, questionnaires and interview schedules, were used. The validity and reliability of the instruments were tested and piloted.Social workers, officials and students ranked twenty-six possible roles of the school social worker on a Likert scale for both actual and ideal practice. The results of the two-tailed paired T-tests conducted to analyse the actual versus ideal functions of the social workers in Saudi Arabian secondary schools, as perceived by social workers themselves, and by students, indicated that there were significant differences at the .005 level for all except two items, though the non-significant items differed between the two groups. The result of the two-tailed paired 1-tests conducted to analyse the actual and ideal functions, as perceived by the officials showed statistically significant difference for all but four items. Thus, the data revealed many significant differences in perceptions of the actual and ideal functions of the social workers in secondary schools in Saudi Arabia. In general, social workers, students and officials thought that, ideally, social workers should do more work in relation to almost every function of the social worker's role.The interviews with social workers revealed some factors, which they thought constrain their role as social workers in the secondary schools. The main factors were burden of other tasks unrelated to their job, such as clerical work, interference in their work from head teachers and sometimes from teachers, and lack of trust. Therefore, problems faced them in performance of their role with teachers, school administrators, education supervisors, parents, and students. Furthermore, social workers complained that students do not seek help from them, even if they are in need of it.