CHILE: New Salesian Industrial College Provides Education in the Mining Field for 490 Students
(MissionNewswire) After a year of planning and construction, Salesian missionaries in partnership with Aurora Williams, the Minister of Mining Activities in Chile, have recently inaugurated the Salesian Industrial Technical College in Calama, a city in the Atacama Desert and capital of El Loa Province in northern Chile. The college is part of the broader Salesian network of educational programs in the country and was built in the Gustavo Lepaige district, one of the most vulnerable of the city.
The new college campus was built thanks to an alliance between the Antofagasta Industrial Association and the Salesian Province and was financed by the CODELCO and El Abra companies in Chile. The college started with 490 students and offers technical and vocational education for the industrial mining sector providing specific courses in mining, industrial mechanics and industrial electricity. Education is free for its students and classes are offered in both English and Spanish.
“The college is a sign of social co-responsibility in the field of education which is the first and main task of a society that attaches importance to culture, ethics and values,” says Father Alberto Lorenzelli, Provincial of the Salesian missionaries in Chile. “Salesian schools provide an educational environment of high academic excellence and generate opportunities for the most disadvantaged while promoting coexistence and living together in a family atmosphere.”
Salesian schools, social development services and workforce development programs throughout Chile are helping to break the cycle of poverty while giving many hope for a more positive and productive future. According to the World Bank, although the economy in Chile is one of the more stable and prosperous in Latin America, a little more than 5 percent of the population live on just $2 a day. The country suffers from high economic inequality which is particularly evident in access to educational opportunities.
“Although the education system in the country is far-reaching, many poor and disadvantaged youth fall through the cracks,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Throughout the country, young people from poor families lack the educational opportunities available to the middle and upper classes.”
Salesian technical schools in Chile cater to students who have dropped out of school and are seeking a second chance. In many programs, students complete their education while engaging in internships with local employers increasing their hands-on work experience and chance of gaining livable wage employment after their studies are completed.
“Salesian missionaries working in Chile focus their efforts on providing education and social programs to poor and at-risk youth,” adds Fr. Hyde. “At Salesian schools, universities and youth centers throughout the country, youth can access an education as well as the skills and resources necessary to find stable employment and improve their standard of living.”
World Bank – Chile