CHILE: Salesians Celebrate 100 Years of Providing Education to Poor Youth
(MissionNewswire) This January, the Don Bosco Institute in Punta Arenas, Chile celebrated 100 years of service. The Salesian institute provides education and technical skills to youth, helping them find stable employment and a path out of poverty for themselves and their families.
In the early days of Don Bosco Institute, the city of Punta Arenas had close to fifteen thousand residents but no educational facility offering technical skills to youth. Technical training was needed to help youth learn skills and trades that could lead to employment. The Don Bosco Institute filled that need by providing technical training in addition to preschool, primary and secondary education.
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 five percent of the population live on just two dollars 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.”
In its early years Don Bosco Institute began by offering courses in printing, carpentry, boot-making and mechanics. Seven years after its foundation, the institute added courses in primary education to serve the huge development in the city at that time as well as the population that had begun to spring up along the Avenida Bulnes and in the suburb of Prat. Throughout the school’s history, it has grown and expanded to meet the needs of its students giving them access to new skills and trades to remain employable in the marketplace.
For youth who lack the resources to attend Chile’s universities, Don Bosco Institute provides the opportunity to receive job skills training. Students today can choose from a variety of courses including mechanics, electronics, telecommunications, tourism services and accounting. In dual education programs, students complete their education with a chance to gain work experience at the same time.
As a result of the technical education provided by the Salesians, youth are more likely to find stable employment and improve their standard of living.
“Students also learn the latest in technology at the Don Bosco Institute in Punta Arenas,” adds Fr. Hyde. “A recent donation of new equipment added to the capacity and technical infrastructure of the high school laboratories. Teachers will be able to expand the skills taught and students will have more hands-on use of information technology.”
Don Bosco Institute Chile – Website
World Bank – Chile