WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY: Salesian Missions highlights life-changing agriculture and technical training programs for poor youth
Training programs in India, Peru, Philippines, Republic of the Congo and Tanzania illustrate the work of Salesians that ensure youth have the skills for employment. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 15, 2020) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in celebrating World Youth Skills Day, which has been celebrated each year on July 15 since 2014. The United Nations designated the day as a way to bring greater awareness of and discussion on the importance of technical and vocational education and training and the development of other skills relevant to both local and global economies.
The theme for this year’s World Youth Skills Day is “Skills for a Resilient Youth” and explores the issues faced by educational systems during the coronavirus pandemic. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, estimates that nearly 70 percent of the world’s learners are affected by school closures across education levels as a result of COVID-19 and the lockdowns that followed. While distance training has become a common way to educate, there are considerable difficulties. UNESCO reports that curricula adaptation, trainee and trainer preparedness, connectivity, or assessment and certification processes are all challenges faced by those providing education remotely.
UNESCO notes, “Prior to the current crisis, young people aged 15-24 were three times more likely than adults to be unemployed and often faced a prolonged school-to-work transition period. In post-COVID-19 societies, as young people are called upon to contribute to the recovery effort, they will need to be equipped with the skills to successfully manage evolving challenges and the resilience to adapt to future disruptions.”
The Salesians are regarded as the single largest provider of vocational and technical training in the world. They offer more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe. This training provides youth the practical skills to prepare for employment and helps them lead productive lives while becoming contributing adults in their communities. These programs go beyond educating. They also assist youth with making connections within industries and preparing them for the process of searching, finding and retaining employment.
“We know that access to education lays the foundation for a better future for all youth and that work must continue even as we face a global health crisis,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “In many countries around the globe where poverty is high and access to education is not universal, it is crucial that Salesian missionaries continue to offer technical and vocational training to as many youth as possible to ensure that they have access to long-term stable employment.”
To mark World Youth Skills Day 2020, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight technical and vocational education that provides life-changing education and skills training for poor and at-risk youth.
In the wake of the extended lockdown in India due to the coronavirus pandemic, Radio Salesian and Salesian TV offer broadcast and podcast lessons for the University of North Bengal’s undergraduate and graduate programs. The virtual launch of “Radio Edu Pods,” the mass education project for college students, was held on May 1.
The lessons are available for free 24 hours a day, seven days a week on Salesian TV’s YouTube channel. The Monday to Friday radio broadcast and web transmissions are also provided at 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on the Listen2MyRadio app. Subjects currently featured on the Salesian TV YouTube channel include the English and Bengali languages, mass communication, sociology, history and philosophy.
The Salesian Center Monte Salvado in Cusco, a city located in the Peruvian Andes, has an agriculture school that offers education to more than 200 children of local farmers who live in isolation. They bring their children to attend the only secondary school in the area. Half of the students live in the two boarding houses attached to the school.
The Salesian Center is located in a region close to the wilderness, 1,100 meters above sea level, and it sits on 80 hectares of land, not all of which is cultivated because some areas extend on the top of steep slopes.
There is a real family atmosphere among the students. They are in contact with nature and animals. They also learn to create jams and fruit buckets with the values of patience and continuous dedication to see the results of their work. The students are working with orange trees, coffee and cocoa crops, and vegetables, along with chickens, rabbits, cattle and pigs.
The Don Bosco Center in Mati, the capital city of the province of East Davao, located on the southeastern side of the island of Mindanao, Philippines, has started an agricultural project to deal with the quarantine period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the guidance of Father Rex Carbilledo, the director of the vocational-technical training center, the soil was prepared for cultivation and the first vegetables were planted. Salesians are planting eggplants, okra, lettuce, sweet potatoes, cassava, onions, ginger and sweet corn. The goal is to provide organic and affordable vegetables to the local population and neighboring communities and to teach cultivation and farming techniques.
Don Bosco Mati was entrusted to the Salesians in 1998 and over the years has established itself as a resource for the community which is made up of mostly poor and marginalized families. The
Don Bosco Training Center in Mati has served more than 2,000 youth since its launch in 1992. Graduates are hired by some of the biggest industries and companies in the country.
REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
On the outskirts of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo, the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center serves 600 youth each day, many from a local working class neighborhood. The center recently created a dressmaking workshop to help educate young women in the community who have an interest in the subject.
Salesian missionaries want to ensure that young women have the same access to education and skills training as young men. The training course is working to attract women, including single mothers and those who left school. The course includes both cutting and sewing classes and helps young women gain employment as seamstresses.
In addition to the training as seamstresses, the first 35 trainees in the program will also receive help to start a small income-generating business at the end of the course. The goal is to help these young women support themselves and their families and feel like active and recognized citizens in society.
Don Bosco Oysterbay, located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is reopening. Tanzanian authorities have said it’s safe for boarding schools and vocational training centers to resume activities with safety measures in place.
Don Bosco Oysterbay offers training in five technical courses including carpentry, electrical, mechanics, secretarial and welding together with aluminum works. All of the courses are three years in length except for the secretarial course, which is for two years. The school has also started a six-month tailoring course.
In addition, Don Bosco Oysterbay received funding from Misereor, a German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation, to help advance training capacity in renewable energy. The funding provided the center with tools, training materials and enough equipment to provide education to 120 students every year. The program, which started in 2017, trains vulnerable youth in technical skills that will help them become change makers in their communities as innovators, technicians and entrepreneurs.
To prepare them for the workforce, trainees benefit from career guidance and entrepreneurship skills provided by Don Bosco’s job placement office. The job placement office empowers youth to realize their full potential by connecting them with employers and entrepreneurship opportunities. In addition, trainees can access soft skills training to build their self-confidence and communication skills.
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