EAST TIMOR: Don Bosco Co-Educational Technical School provides job skills training to 106 poor youth
(MissionNewswire) Five years after the launch of the Don Bosco Co-Educational Technical School in the city of Maliana in East Timor, the center has 106 students currently in its classes. The school, which was a collaborative project by Salesian missionaries and the governments of East Timor and Spain, is facilitated by four Salesian missionaries and 15 lay missionaries. Sixty students have already graduated from technical programs since the school was opened.
“Technical education is important to ensure youth have the skills needed to find and retain long-term stable employment,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Students who are able to access education and find work are able to become contributing members of their communities, helping to support their families as well as community development.”
Salesian missionaries in East Timor have been providing programs to help residents recover and rebuild in the wake of a devastating civil war in the country that claimed countless lives, decimated entire communities and resulted in living conditions that are among the worst in the world. Now that the violence has subsided, efforts are being focused on helping the poor, restoring hope and providing new opportunities for the future.
In addition to technical education, Salesian missionaries in East Timor also focus on agriculture training. In the city of Fuiloro, where 75 percent of the population earns a living through farming, Don Bosco Agricultural College plays an important role in promoting better care of livestock and increasing the yield from crops. In 2017, there was an increase in enrollment applications and now more than 200 students take courses at the college. The school is aiming to become more self-sufficient by increasing farm production of corn, animal feed, varied horticulture and coconut oil, along with improved livestock intake.
Salesian missionaries also have a focus on educating young women and girls in East Timor. The Salesian-run Madalena Morano Center in Fuiloro offers women courses in computing, basic office management and sewing. There are 54 women who come from families facing high poverty. Many graduates secure work in Dili or Baucau. In Laga, 98 girls aged 6 to 16 are provided a home, an education and a secure environment at the Salesian-run Laura Vicuna Orphanage. Traditional education is taught in addition to studies in theater, dance, music, sewing and sports to encourage young girls to develop their skills and talents.
East Timor is home to 1.1 million people and according to the Human Development Index, the country ranked 133 out of 188 for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living in 2015. The World Bank estimates that East Timor has close to 49 percent of its population living in poverty with over one-third of the population regularly experiencing food shortages. In addition, close to 50 percent of the population is illiterate.
World Bank – East Timor/Timor-Leste
Salesian Missions Australia – 2017 Newsletter (Annual Report)