Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: February 14, 2022

ITALY: Digital learning made possible with support from USAID

‘Salesian Solidarity with Italy: the Emergency Response to COVID-19’ project provides digital education resources during pandemic.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Feb. 14, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, facilitated the “Salesian Solidarity with Italy: the Emergency Response to COVID-19” project from July 31, 2020, to Oct. 30, 2021. The project was made possible with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government’s main development agency operating in more than 100 countries worldwide.

This project was one element of USAID’s $50 million commitment to Italy to help save lives and build resilience for the future. USAID’s work in Italy is one part of the U.S. Government’s response to the pandemic in Italy.

To implement the project, Salesian Missions worked with Salesian International Volunteering for Development (VIS) and two Salesian partners: CNOS-FAP, the National Salesian Center for Vocational Training and Ongoing Education, which is a network of technical and vocational institutions; and SCS-CNOS Federation, Salesians for Social Welfare

This project impacted 16 regions of Italy, mitigating the adverse social, health and educational consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It reached 4,508 direct beneficiaries, 249 school classes and 30 youth centers. The project also had a particular emphasis on the needs of young women, who represented 49.6 percent of the total beneficiaries.

With a heavy focus on digital educational resources, the project provided 5,000 digital kits to schools that applied to a national drawing contest. An additional 1,450 digital kits were distributed to VIS partners. Furthermore, an online form is currently available on the VIS website where 65 digital kits have been downloaded since October 2021. The digital kits provided educational activities, stories, cartoons, and interactive and creative games to raise students’ awareness about global citizenship topics such as discrimination and inclusion, school dropouts and sustainable development.

In addition, due to distance learning during the pandemic, many students experienced performance declines, and some had to drop out due to a lack of steady internet connection and device issues. Responding to this need, 550 ICT kits (laptop, tablet and Wi-Fi kits) were distributed to 450 selected students attending technical courses in subjects like electricity, mechanics, and graphics at CNOS-FAP colleges and schools that are a part of SCS-CNOS Federation.

The project also disseminated 183 licenses to Salesian schools for technical software including software for graphics and communication, a multi-asset repository, e-simulators, and e-platform software. This software enabled the schools to enhance online coursework.

During the project period, 971 people also attended a variety of online learning including 10 web talks, four online courses and two video classes. Web talks explored challenges and opportunities related to digital relations, geopolitics, and cooperative working environment during the time of COVID-19. Some of the topics included “COVID-19, the unexpected guest. Vulnerability at the time of the coronavirus,” “Digital relations: new perspectives after the emergency,” “COVID-19 and sustainable development” and “Human rights after COVID.”

In addition to educational activities, the project focused on much needed food, shelter, and mental health and social support for poverty-stricken families and migrants in Catania, Sicily, through local partner Don Bosco 2000. A temporary reception center for migrants and refugees was also set up to provide shelter to 10 vulnerable migrants coming from Algeria, Niger, Egypt, Gambia and Senegal.

“We are grateful to the U.S. Government for supporting this critical project in Italy, which was hard hit by the virus and has a struggling economy made worse by the pandemic,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesians joined together across the country with the support of partners to help address the ongoing needs brought about by the pandemic. This is an example of yet another collaborative project to assist those most in need through education, psycho-social support and delivering direct relief materials.”


Contact: [email protected]