Social Worker of the Year Redouan el Khayari: "A person is a person in relation to others: that's what makes sociology fascinating."

Spark Interview
Foto van Redouan in Haagse Hogeschool voor Spark Interview
Rick Keus

When Redouan El Khayari graduates from the Sociology programme at Erasmus University Rotterdam, he has already had a long and unusual school career. From practical education, he went through vmbo and mbo to HBO, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in social work and services. And now, he is a social worker in the Haaglanden region and lecturer/researcher in the Faculty of Social Work and Education of The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This spring, Redouan was elected Social Worker of the Year 2022.

In executive work and as a teacher for future social workers, Redouan enjoys connecting science and practice. Redouan: "I take a scientific view of social issues from the perspective of sociology. You cannot understand a person by looking only at the individual. A person is a person in relation to others. That is what makes sociology so fascinating to me. I sometimes literally sit on the stairs in front of the college to watch all those students move around."

Inclusive education

As a teacher, Redouan wants to inspire and motivate students. What impact education can have in your life, he has experienced himself. Both positively and negatively. "There was a phase with me where education destroyed me and a phase where I was able to come to who I am," Redouan says. "If it is emphasised every time that you deviate from 'the norm, for example, because you have ADHD or are left-handed or have a low cito score, it has a negative effect on a child. For that reason, I had little social contact as a child. I withdrew and thought, 'the world doesn't understand me, and I don't understand the world. Until I went to college. My time at college and university helped me in finding myself. I learnt skills there to participate fully. I keep telling myself that now that I am in front of the classroom: I want to keep all my students involved. I go for inclusive education in which we learn to ask questions and find answers without assumptions. In order to gather knowledge together for a bright future."

Role of sociology in social problems

A future in which we must find solutions to social issues such as youth care, the housing market and refugee reception. Besides statistics and administrative models, Redouan argues for humanity and customisation in tackling these social problems. "During the pandemic, our society was quite divided. In my opinion, it can then help to look not only at numbers but also at the behaviour of groups of people in their social context." Redouan believes sociology has a vital role in finding solutions to social problems. "From science, sociology can add colour to numbers," he says. According to Redouan, a sociological approach is also the key to tackling social problems in his own field. "As a social worker, I still experience the same problems in my neighbourhood after 15 years of hard work. Problems persist because many plans start from an individualistic micro-perspective. That really needs to change. A macro approach is needed if people who need help structurally fall back into their old situation after a few months. That means stepping back and discovering what is behind this problem from a sociological perspective."

Lunch at the Royal Household

The fact that Redouan likes to contribute to society from his field has not gone unnoticed. After the interview, Redouan reports that he received a call from the Royal Family inviting him to lunch. "Now that's participation, social cohesion, connection, inclusion..." Redouan gratefully concludes, "The work I get to do now and the recognition I experience, the EUR has played a huge part in that."

More information

This interview is part of Spark. With these interviews, we aim to draw attention to the positive impact of the faculty's education and research on society. The stories in Spark give an insight into what makes ESSB students, alumni, staff and researchers tick.

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