Ziad Faraj

The Challenges Encountering the Development of Social Work Profession in Palestine and Strategies to Overcome Them

Supervisors: Dr Surinder Guru


The history of social work profession in Palestine goes back to 1971 when the first two-year diploma program was established in East Jerusalem by the Palestinian prominent woman Mrs Hind Al-Husseini. It was planed and designed as a response to girls from Palestinian families who fled the Zionist mascaras against the villages in the surrounding areas of Jerusalem in 1948. Over the last 45 years, it evolved and merged in the social services systems as well integrated at BA level in five Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to provide the Palestinian society with qualified professionals to help individuals, families, communities and sectors cope with / enhance their resilience under the socioeconomic and other challenges resulted from the complicated political conflict with the colonial Israeli occupation in addition to many other sources of marginalization and powerlessness.

Concomitant to all development and the emergence of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and the increased demand on social work graduates during eighties and nineties of the last century, by national and international employers, the responsiveness, effectiveness and status of this profession have been increasingly  hindered by a complex set of challenges. This research aims at identifying and defining these challenges and remedies as perceived by key actors in the social work field in Palestine. Towards this aim, the research will apply qualitative research methods, mainly the individual interviews and focus groups with participants from the education system, the employers system and social work graduates.  



  • Master of Social Work, McGill University, Montreal, Canada



I am Palestinian professional with 25 years of work experience in the field of social work. I was born in Dhesheh Refugees camp, which is in southern part of Bethlehem city in the West Bank. I finished my BA in sociology/ Psychology and teaching diploma from Bethlehem University in 1987, the PGD in social work supervision in 1996. In 2000, I finished my MSW from McGill University through a scholarship by the Canadian Government. 

Over the 25 years I occupied different positions as social worker and manager of social work programs with national and international organisations including UNRWA, Ex-Detainees Rehab. Program, General Union of Disabled Palestinians, Lecturer at three Palestinian Universities and freelance consultant for national and international clients in areas of social development (i.e training, institutional development, strategic planning, research, local governance, program evaluation, policy development etc).

Research interests

  • The decision makers and policy makers in the education system and employers system will benefit from this research in terms of being able to review and restructure their interventions and policies based on the findings of this research.
  • The Palestinian Union of Social Workers and the graduates of social work programs will also benefit from this research in terms of getting research-based grounds for their advocacy strategies and other actions to improve the status of the profession and its constituency.
  • The significance of this research is that it is the first of its kind in this area in Palestine.

Teaching responsibilities

  • Lecturer of social work courses at University of Bethlehem (2001 -2006)
  • Lecturer of social work courses at Al-Quds Open University (2000-2001)
  • Lecturer of social work courses at Palestine Ahliyeh University College (2010)
  • Field supervisor of social work students from Palestinian universities and some international universities (1996 – 2016)

Professional membership

Founder and member of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists (1997-2016).


  • Christian, Aspalter. Routledge (2013), Social Work in the Middle East, Chapter on “Social Work in Palestine”, Pp 53-81.
  • Lavalette, Mickael and Ferguson, Venture (2008). International Social Work and Radical Tradition. Pp 163-187. (Published)
  • Newsletter of British Columbia Association of Social Workers (2006). Perspectives Newsletter. Vol. 28. Pp 16-17.


Email: zmfaraj@gmail.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/zmfaraj