INT’L LITERACY DAY: Salesian programs provide education to poor and at-risk youth
Salesian missionaries establish vital primary, secondary and vocational schools in impoverished areas.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 8, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in celebrating International Literacy Day. Celebrated each year on Sept. 8, the day was launched in 1967 to “remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.”
This year’s theme focuses on “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces” and calls on educational communities to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and ensure quality, equitable, and inclusive education for all. Despite progress, literacy challenges persist for 771 million illiterate people around the world, most of whom are women, increasing their vulnerability, according to UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
UNESCO noted, “Rapidly changing global context took a new meaning over the past years, hampering the progress of global literary efforts. In the aftermath of the pandemic, nearly 24 million learners might never return to formal education, out of which, 11 million are projected to be girls and young women. To ensure no one is left behind, we need to enrich and transform the existing learning spaces through an integrated approach and enable literacy learning in the perspective of lifelong learning.”
“Salesian missionaries establish vital primary, secondary and vocational schools in some of the most impoverished and remote places on earth,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian missionaries focus educational efforts on literacy as well as skill building initiatives, including learning English language skills.”
In honor and celebration of International Literacy Day 2022, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs with a focus on educational and literacy efforts for poor youth.
Salesian students in primary and secondary school in the San José de la Floresta Parish in Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, received scholarships thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. A total of 23 children and older youth were supported with the scholarship funding.
The youth who received scholarships are from low-income families and large families with parents who could not afford school fees. Some children lost their father or mother due to COVID-19 and were left in the care of a relative or in a single-parent family. Most of the parents
work in an informal business or as street vendors. Some have a small business but only earn enough to feed their families for the day.
A Salesian missionary said, “La Floresta Parish can only help children and young people with the collaboration of good-hearted people, since as a parish it does not generate any type of income, and the collection only serves to cover parish expenses. Thanks to the help of donors, we can support families in need so that their children can continue studying.”
Assam Don Bosco University held a free digital literacy training on the basics of desktop publishing for young women from the State Home for Women in Jalukbari, Guwahati, India. The training, organized by VanitAgrata, the women empowerment group of the university, helped rural young women learn skills for employment. The one-day training involved lectures, practical sessions, demos and hands-on practice sessions.
VanitAgrata began in 2015 with the motto “By the Women, For the Women.” It provides free digital training to empower young girls and women in Assam, bridge the digital divide, and facilitate gender equality. Tools and technologies covered include basic computer training, using mobile phones, banking transactions, housekeeping and use of the internet.
Students at the Don Bosco Learning Center, within the Don Bosco Quetta community in Pakistan, have a new digital computer lab thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The center has been teaching primary and secondary school in Quetta since 2000. More than 780 students, ages 8-22, were positively impacted by this new lab.
The funding provided new computers, a projector, printers, a computer table, chairs and Wi-Fi connection. Teachers are beginning to develop classes for Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, networking, graphic design and web design.
The Don Bosco Learning Center is teaching computer literacy skills and technology to students. The lab will be used for daily classes for grades 3-10. In the evening, computer classes for other students and those in the community will be held. Salesians in Quetta also have a long tradition of assisting Afghan refugees. This project will also enable refugees to learn skills after they are settled.
Students have four new classrooms at the Salesian secondary school in the Zatti community in Kabwe, Zambia, thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. In addition to the classrooms, the project also installed new toilets for the classrooms.
Salesians were able to construct the foundation, roofing, walls, windows and doors of the classrooms, as well as install electrical and plumbing. They also furnished the classrooms. About 150 male students and 200 female students directly benefit from the new classrooms.
Salesians started the primary and secondary school in Kabwe in partnership with other education organizations and the agreement of the government. The community where the school is based has many youth living in the area, and the other schools could not meet the demand for education, particularly grades 8-12. The Salesian secondary school filled the gap for poor youth who could not afford other schools. The goal is to provide training to equip them with the skills and the knowledge so they can live a self-sustainable life.
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