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COSTA RICA: Salesian Programs Help At-Risk Youth Remain in School, Gain Skills for Employment

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been working with at-risk youth in Costa Rica providing educational programs and services to decrease youth’s risk of incarceration, exploitation, and a life of criminal activity. Some youth turn to crime because they lack educational opportunities and are forced to live on the street. Others have dropped out of school, are using drugs, engaging in violent behavior, or have engaged in early sexual activity.

While some youth have gained an education, they still lack the social and life skills needed to maintain stable employment. According to statistics from Salesian missionaries and teachers who have been working with at-risk youth, nearly 60 percent of young people are laid off from their jobs because of poor values and social skills. While they may possess the labor skills needed to do the job, they don’t possess the personal work traits needed to keep the job, maintain relationships with co-workers, and act professionally on the job.

To address these issues, 25 Salesian instructors and educators with CEDES Don Bosco in Alajuelita, the 10th canton (municipality) in the province of San José in Costa Rica, have come together to start an initiative to assist youth at-risk. The first step was integrating the current Salesian school curriculum with new strategies for the care of youth in situations of social risk.

Following that, Salesian missionaries are providing teachers ongoing training on topics that will help them to effectively help these youth. The goal is to be able to provide for youth in a way that helps them remain in school, have access to life and social skills training, and gain the skills needed to find and retain employment. This will keep them off the streets and help them break the cycle of poverty.

“All youth deserve a chance at a better life,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In Costa Rica and in countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries help young people take responsibility for their own lives and provide them with both the technical and life skills needed to succeed in the workplace.”

According to the World Bank, more than 1.1 million Costa Ricans live in poverty, that’s just more than 21 percent of the population. While the poverty rate has dropped slightly from 2014, extreme poverty has been on the rise and has reached its highest recorded rate in the last six years. In 2015, 7.2 percent of the population lived in extreme poverty as compared to 5.8 percent in 2010.

In addition, poor Costa Ricans are more likely to live in a single-mother household and have a higher-than-average number of children under 5 years old as well as other dependents including other children under 14 years old or adults over 65 years old living in the same home. More than 77 percent of poor Costa Ricans work in the informal sector and have roughly three years less schooling than their peers who are not living in conditions of poverty.



ANS – Costa Rica – Care of young people at risk

ANS – Costa Rica – Fr Ángel Fernández Artime: “You have to give your life to be happy.”

World Bank – Costa Rica

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