CHILE: Salesian Missionaries Open New School and Technical Training Courses for Disadvantaged Youth
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries working in Chile have expanded their reach to the northern region of the country where they recently opened a new school in the city of Calama and began offering a series of professional training courses for disadvantaged youth. A pastoral program is also offered at the school for those interested in entering the Salesian vocation.
Salesian schools, services and programs throughout Chile are helping to break the cycle of poverty while giving many hope for a more positive and productive future. Salesian schools equip students with a foundational education and the skills they need to compete in the local labor market by offering courses in carpentry, farming, electrical and mechanical engineering, computers and more. Salesian schools also build partnerships with local businesses to help youth gain employment after graduation. This further helps the local economy by providing a well-trained labor force.
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.”
Many of the Salesian technical schools in Chile cater to students who have dropped out of school and are seeking a second chance. And for youth who lack the resources to attend Chile’s universities, Salesian schools provide the opportunity to receive job skills training. 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 services to poor, 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 break the cycle of poverty. As a result of the vocational and technical education provided by Salesian programs, Chilean youth are more likely to find stable employment and improve their standard of living.”
Operating for more than 15 years in Santiago, Chile’s capital and largest city, the Don Bosco Foundation has successfully educated and provided social services to more than 15,000 children and adults. Responding to a rise in the homeless population in the city, Salesian missionaries at the foundation created programs in partnership with other local social welfare programs to meet the basic needs of both adults and children living on the street while providing opportunities for education. Participants are provided shelter, nutritious food, clothing, medical care and an education. Educational programming includes vocational and technical training to help those in need find and retain stable employment. Counseling and recovery services are also offered.
World Bank – Chile