ARGENTINA: 85-Year-Old Agricultural School Teaches Hundreds Necessary Farming Techniques
(MissionNewswire) This past May, the Pascual Gentilini Agricultural School celebrated its 85 year history teaching agricultural skills to poor youth in Argentina. The Salesian-run program is one of more than 90 agricultural schools Salesian Missions operates world-wide.
Construction of the school began in 1927 through a bequest by the school’s namesake, Pascual Gentilini, who donated the land for the new school. The school acquired its first students in 1931 and has evolved over the years from providing a basic “Farm Manager” course to a more substantial course, “General Agronomist”, to the far more substantial variety of courses offered to its students today.
“Salesian Missions not only provides educational opportunities in more than 130 countries around the globe, it also address core needs,” says Fr. Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions – the U.S. arm of Don Bosco. “The Salesian-run agricultural schools offer more than just agricultural training – they are often part of a larger program that also offers literacy education and other vocational training, in addition to feeding programs for hungry children.”
Today, the Agricultural School’s curriculum includes lessons in community service, vegetable gardening, cooking, maintenance, music, annual crops, cultivation of tea, fruit farming, zootechnics, bee-keeping, cattle-raising, leadership training and social work. Agricultural technical training encompasses one to six years of study and the youth at the school are enthusiastic students, eager to learn modern methods of farming together with business management.
The school, which started with only a handful of students, offered a safe home, an education in farming methods and most importantly, hope for the future. Since its inception, the school has seen much growth and today supports 209 boarding students, 40 teachers and 32 staff members including a lay Principal.
The primary mission of the school is to provide educational opportunities for the poorest of the poor. After youth have completed their studies, they are able to give back and contribute to their local economy. The benefit of training even one student has a positive ripple effect on the community. Graduates leave with knowledge and training to improve the lives of not only themselves, but their families and villages as well.
“Investing in agriculture education in developing countries is vital to a community’s livelihood and essential not only to overcome hunger and poverty, but also to ensure overall economic growth for the surrounding villages and cities,” adds Fr. Hyde.