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Susan Nasilele

MSocSc in Social Policy, UCC

Susan works as an Assistant Social Welfare Officer in the Department of Social Welfare in Zambia. She received a Fellowship award in 2018-19 to study on the MSocSc in Social Policy at University College Cork.

This course will widen my knowledge in policies that affect those that I work with.

I work as an Assistant Social Welfare Officer in the Department of Social Welfare under the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services in the Siavonga District in Zambia. This position involves ensuring close liaison with the district welfare assistance committee, welfare authorities, and other external bodies and individuals involved in the field of social welfare and the provision of social protection services to vulnerable members of society. I provide guidance and support to members of the team on issues related to the welfare of children, families, and the community as a whole.

I chose to study on the MSocSc in Social Policy at UCC because social protection service delivery is grounded in social policies formulated at national level, and it is these policies that determine good and effective service delivery. This course will widen my knowledge in policies that affect those that I work with. I believe it will help me to have a critical view of service delivery, while at the same time it will assist me in identifying gaps that exist in social policies back home that aim to reduce vulnerability and enhance social protection.

Already the course has provided a comparative perspective for me in terms of social policies in Zambia, and policies in the European and Irish contexts. My studies so far have enabled me to explore broadly issues of policy influence and subsequent implementation of different social policies in different contexts. The course has also provided me with a rich background of social policies meant to safeguard social protection.

I have gained analytical skills, and I have particularly focused on critical analysis of the effectiveness of one particular policy in Zambia: the “Re-entry Girls Education Policy”. It is a policy that aims to reduce the barriers to young mothers furthering their education, and I have identified areas of success of the policy, and identified weaknesses and gaps in the policy that I am hoping to develop further in my thesis research project in the summer. My research will hopefully be useful in helping to improve the policy, and in ensuring that more young mothers return to education.

Since coming to Ireland, I have had to adjust to the weather patterns. Where I come from in Zambia is characterised by high temperatures, with an average of 42 degrees Celsius. For me, the Irish weather has been a drastic adjustment because the two climates are complete opposites. However, I would say that I have managed, and I haven’t allowed it to be a hindrance. In terms of food, though, the lack of variety of green leafy vegetables that I am used to has been difficult. However, there is a good variety of food generally.

I will actually miss the weather in Ireland, despite the cold. It is easy in the Irish weather to walk and naturally exercise, whereas in the 42 degree weather in Zambia it is practically impossible to walk any distance that one could count as having exercised.

When I return to Zambia after my studies, I am hoping to get a promotion to a higher position, and join the relatively small number of women who hold higher positions across organisations. I also hope to positively contribute towards developing my country by translating policies into efficient service delivery, particularly in rural communities where poverty and vulnerability are more pronounced.