Young Women Breaking Barriers
There’s a saying in Africa that goes something like this: “When you educate a girl, you educate an entire society.” Still, many societies on the continent remain resistant to gender equality, which makes such an education challenging to acquire. Recent graduates from a Salesian school in Tanzania serve as an inspiration.
“One of the most interesting aspects of this school is the strong female representation in fields that in the past were traditionally dominated by males,” says a Salesian missionary at Don Bosco Kilimanjaro International Institute for Telecommunications, Electronics and Computers (Don Bosco KIITEC) in Arusha. Here, 36 students—roughly one-third of them young women—joyfully accepted their diplomas on November 25th.
“This is interesting within the context of Tanzania’s traditional society,” explains Father Michael Conway, director of Salesian Missions. “But it’s not at all surprising within the Salesian context. In fact, Salesian institutions across Tanzania have specifically committed to opening educational doors for girls.”
For example, one Salesian high school in Didia was the first and only in the region to accept female students. Beyond primary and secondary schools, missionaries have invested considerable resources into expanding technical education opportunities for young women.
“Many Tanzanian girls and their parents don’t even realize they can attend vocational training courses,” says Fr. Mike. “Technical education there has long been considered a male stronghold … but with our missionaries taking the lead, that attitude is beginning to evolve.”
An ongoing campaign at Salesian schools in Tanzania, “Binti Thamani” (translated literally to “precious girl”), works to raise awareness among teachers and parents about equal education for boys and girls, including technical training and the vital employment opportunities it can lead to. In the time since its inception, Binti Thamani has reached well over 3,000 young women—some of whom studied at and graduated from Don Bosco KIITEC. Here, students can access some of the most advanced training technologies available in the region, including electrical engineering with industrial automation; renewable energy; computer science; and electronics and telecommunications. Accredited by the National Council for Technical Education, Don Bosco KIITEC awards successful graduates with a three-year National Technical Award Level Six diploma.
“We know that educated girls and young women are better equipped to live as independent adults, and to make positive decisions that benefit themselves, their families and their communities,” Fr. Mike concludes. “They also support the growth and development of their country as a whole—which is important, since a strong Tanzanian economy will continue to require qualified professionals. And that includes women.”
Learn more about our work in Tanzania.
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