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BURUNDI: Students Learn the Craft of Wood Making for Future Employment

(MissionNewswire) At the Salesian Don Bosco Vocational Training Center Gatenga, in the city of Ruyigi in eastern Burundi, students are learning the craft of wood making. The wood making program is part of local Salesian missionaries’ efforts to provide youth an education and trade skill training as well as valuable work experience in an effort to increase future employment opportunities.

Bridging the gap between school curriculum and the practical skills needed to succeed in the labor market, all the programs offered at the vocational training center allow students to put the skills they have learned in the classroom into practice under the guidance of qualified workers and supervisors. Through this work in the field, students learn new techniques and gain a hands-on application of classroom studies.

“Access to education provides opportunities to youth they may never have imagined possible,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian programs are able to meet the diverse needs of students, allowing them to focus on their studies while gaining life skills that help them make better decisions and find future employment.”

In addition to vocational training, students at the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center learn problem solving skills, social skills and conflict management. The goal is to graduate students who are not only prepared to enter into the workforce but who will succeed in their chosen occupations.

“Through the Don Bosco Vocational Center, youth in Burundi acquire a strong sense of responsibility and improve their coping and social skills to succeed in the workplace,” explains Fr Hyde. “It’s also a win-win for employers who have a chance to train valuable young and enthusiastic new workers for their companies.”

The center also offers programs in welding and auto mechanics, among other trades. Increasing the chances for successful employment, Salesian missionaries have built collaborative relationships with local employers, helping to ease the transition for students from school to employment. Through the program, teachers and employers hold monthly meetings and carefully monitor students’ progress to guarantee that the on-the-job training contributes to enhancing students’ technical skills.

Burundi, located in the heart of the African Great Lakes region, has seen more than a decade of violence and conflict which has contributed to widespread poverty, according to UNICEF. Burundi ranks 180 out 187 countries on the 2014 UN Human Development Index and close to 70 percent of its residents live below the poverty line.

Children are some of the most severely affected by the country’s rampant poverty. Fifty-three percent of children under the age of five suffer from growth stunting caused by inadequate food, low-quality diet, poor infant feeding practices, poor household management of childhood diseases and the general decline of the country’s health system.

“All youth deserve a chance at a better life,” adds Fr. Hyde. “At Don Bosco Technical School, Salesian missionaries help youth overcome barriers to success while teaching them how to take responsibility for their own lives. By providing youth an education and the necessary skills to find and retain employment, they are able to support themselves and help their communities.”


UNICEF – Burundi

*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.

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