Social work education as foreign policy: an Israeli school of social work in Kenya in the 1960s

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The global growth of social work entailed the transnational translation of professional knowledge and practice, primarily through social work education. The difficulties involved in this process are evident in a case study of an Israeli initiative to establish a school of social work in Kenya in the early 1960s. The school was opened in 1962 and remained active for most of the decade. Its establishment was a part of a drive to further Israeli influence in the emerging states of Africa. Despite the good intentions of the school staff, the effort to transfer social work knowledge from Israel to Kenya was ultimately unsuccessful. The wide gaps between the Israeli and Kenyan contexts, the inability of the Israeli staff to integrate indigenous knowledge into the curriculum and difficulties encountered by the graduates to apply their acquired knowledge in the field, all contributed to the ineffectiveness of the training programme. Growing Israeli reluctance to fund the endeavor and, particularly, a lack of significant continuing support for the school among the Kenyan leadership in the face of calls for Africanization led to the integration of the school into the country’s public administration training programme and its effective closure in 1971.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalSocial Work Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Israel
  • Kenya
  • social work education
  • social work history

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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