ARGENTINA: Argentine President Signs Decree for Creation of New Salesian University
(MissionNewswire) More than a quarter of people in Argentina live in conditions of poverty with no formal employment and poor quality education, according to the World Bank. The country’s high school dropout rate is close to 37 percent and youth account for a third of those unemployed. Almost 12 percent of children aged five to 17 are working instead of in school and 20 percent need government assistance. Many face malnutrition, a lack of clean water and sewage and inadequate housing.
Access to education and training provides a foundation for youth to break the cycle of poverty and gain employment. Salesians have been working in Argentina to provide educational opportunities to poor youth through schools, technical and agricultural programs and other services that help youth learn skills to gain stable employment.
At the end of March, the President of Argentina, the Honorable Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, signed a decree for the creation of the Salesian University of Argentina in the city of Bahía Blanca, located in the southwest of the province of Buenos Aires. The decree was delivered to Rector Major Father Ángel Fernández Artime and Professor Marta Pines, during a ceremony which marked the official opening of the university. This decree is the culmination of more than eight years of preparation and development by the Salesian Province of Argentina South and the grant of official approval by the National Commission for University Approval and Accreditation last year.
The new university, set up as a nonprofit, will offer quality education to young people who are looking to continue their academic studies. Its focus is on development and research, advancement in technology, formation of human resources and attention to innovative practices for the common good of the people and the progress of the nation. Coursework will be offered in psychology, law, communication and education, and it is anticipated that additional courses will be added later to meet the specific needs of students.
“For eight years we worked hard to get approval”, said Brother Hugo Carlos Vera, Salesian and academic secretary at the university. “Now we have an opportunity to give quality service to young people in the region. Salesian University of Argentina wants to reach ordinary people and offer education to respond to the problems facing young people.”
Salesians have a long history of working with poor youth and their families in Argentina, providing primary and secondary schools along with trade, agricultural and college programs.
Last year, the Salesian Pascual Gentilini Agricultural School in San Jose celebrated its 85th anniversary. Its curriculum includes lessons in community service, vegetable gardening, cooking, maintenance, music, cultivation of annual crops and tea, fruit farming, zootechnics, bee-keeping, cattle-raising, leadership training and social work.
“Salesian programs adapt to local needs,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian educational institutions teach, train and work with local youth living in poverty who want opportunities for a brighter future. The academic and technical programs offered show how education and training not only benefit the individual student, but also entire communities.”
World Bank – Poverty in Argentina