Moving Toward Economic Security in Samoa
Although Samoa enjoys a relatively healthy economy, and demonstrates a commitment to social development, many rural residents continue to struggle with the negative effects of wealth inequality—including the lack of livable-wage employment opportunities and gender-based job discrimination. For nearly 40 years, Salesian missionaries have worked to address these challenges through technical education and training opportunities for disadvantaged youth. And, as their efforts have grown, so have their results.
At both the Don Bosco Technical Center in Alafua, and Don Bosco High School and Vocational Center in Salelologa, missionaries offer subsidized or free education to village youth whose families otherwise couldn’t afford to send their children to school. Since 1998, when the Don Bosco Technical Center first opened its doors, enrollment has increased from 47 students to 198—a 74% increase that staff attributes to strong outreach efforts, including traveling information sessions and social media campaigns. An additional 225 pupils—many of whom live a considerable distance away and take a school-sponsored bus to campus—attend classes in Salelologa.
In Alafua, students can choose a traditional education, or select from among five vocational training programs. Working closely with the Samoa Quailfication Authority and local companies, missionaries ensure that graduates are prepared for employment according to the highest standards, and with real-world skills developed during on-site apprenticeships. As a result, most of the Class of 2018 found employment in their trade.
“These are exactly the kinds of tangible outcomes that we love to see,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, “because they demonstrate that practical education, tailored for local needs, really does move the needle toward increased economic opportunities for youth. In turn, this drives the kind of broader development that can lift entire communities out of poverty.”
According to Mr. Mane, principal of the Don Bosco Technical Center, the school will soon add programs in carpentry and welding, and engage in a fundraising campaign to assist with maintenance and upgrades to the facility. A passionate and involved community of Salesian Cooperators—lay Catholic volunteers who live the Gospel in the spirit of Don Bosco—have also raised enough money to hire an additional kindergarten teacher for the parish school.
If all of this positive momentum is any indication, the future has never been brighter for Samoan youth.
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