Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: May 15, 2014

Education and New Hope in Guinea

Although Guinea boasts a wealth of mineral and agricultural resources, its people are among the poorest in West Africa – often forced to survive on less than $1 a day. In the west-central region of Kankan, Salesian missionaries are working on behalf of Guinea’s youth, improving their future opportunities through education.

In a country with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world – in fact, recent statistics indicate that only 29.5% of adults can read and write – this work is increasingly important. Further, with close to 60% of Guinea’s population under the age of 24, the future of the country lies squarely on the shoulders of its youth.

According to the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, however, many children are often kept out of school in order to assist their parents with domestic and agricultural chores. Other families simply can’t afford it – and struggle to pay the meager fees required for teachers’ salaries.

“A good education is one of the most crucial determinants in breaking the cycle of poverty,” says Fr. Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Yet too often in Guinea, parents actually have to choose whether to buy a bag of rice to feed their families, or send their children to school instead.”

Sadly, the end result is always the same: Another generation of poorly educated young people unable to reach their full potential – continuing the cycle of poverty.

Fortunately, thanks to the generous support of many of our friends, more than 200 youth are able to attend classes at the Salesian-run Center for Vocational Education and Training in Kankan. Here, students learn the skills required for specific trades in carpentry, auto mechanics and electrical work. Ultimately, they will emerge with the expertise to find decent-paying jobs and a better life.

The students’ presence at the Center helps younger children as well. Each afternoon, dozens of boys and girls who do not attend school – and who would otherwise hang around on the streets with nothing to do – arrive on the premises to participate in sports and other constructive activities.  The older students act as volunteer soccer coaches; in doing so, they not only share their own knowledge and life lessons – they also introduce boys and girls to the possibility of attending school. As a result, the seeds of hope are slowly being sewn for a brighter future for Guinea.

Thanks to your caring support, Salesian Missions provides new opportunities and new hope for people in some of the poorest places on the planet. Through your generosity, young people are learning trades, gaining employment, and becoming self-sufficient in ways that truly break the cycle of poverty.

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