EGYPT: Salesian volunteers from Italy teach Italian language courses to students preparing for enrollment in Salesian Vocational Training Institute
(MissionNewswire) As part of collaborative projects between the Salesian Circumscription of Central Italy and the Salesian province of the Middle East, several Italian volunteers spent time at a Salesian school in Alexandria, Egypt. The volunteers spent their summer break teaching Italian language skills to youth who are trying to gain acceptance into the Salesian Vocational Training Institute which is part of the Don Bosco School complex in Alexandria.
The volunteers taught a month-long Italian language course to 160 boys participating in the program and evaluated their reading and conversation skills once or twice during the course. This allowed the volunteer teachers to have a better understanding of which students needed the most assistance while ensuring the students felt supported throughout the program.
“I have understood that the vocational training institute offers a unique opportunity for youth in Alexandria. The quality of the courses, the seriousness of the teachers and above all, the educational style that is provided, ensures that at the end of their three-year courses, students have the professional skills to find a career and have freedom of choice for their future,” says Chiara, one of the volunteer teachers.
Students attending the Don Bosco School and Salesian oratory in Alexandria are Muslim. There is no intent for conversion to Catholicism nor do students have to convert to attend programs. Salesian missionaries have been working in Egypt for more than 100 years. Primary and secondary education, high-quality vocational and technical schools and youth centers are accessed by both Muslim and Christian youth as well as by refugees in need of services.
Originally called the Salesian House, the school complex was founded in 1896 in Alexandria by Father Rua to provide education to the many Italian migrants who lived there. Today the complex is called the Don Bosco School and it serves more than 900 students beginning with primary school and continuing through vocational training. The courtyards and playgrounds continue to be filled with students after school who connect with their peers in a safe and supportive environment. The school is recognized, and partially funded, by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Salesian programs across Egypt provide education and social development services for youth and their families living in poverty,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth, regardless of faith and religious background, are able to access Salesian programs to gain assistance with homework and connect with their peers as well as adults who provide mentorship and support in their lives.”
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 26 percent of Egypt’s population lives in poverty while 49 percent of those living in Upper Egypt cannot provide for their basic needs of food and shelter. Egypt’s unemployment rate has reached 13.2 percent and that number almost doubles for women at 24.2 percent. Egypt, the 15th most densely populated country in the world, has been experiencing a rise in poverty and food insecurity for the past three years, according to reports released by the United Nations food agency and its partners.
The country has witnessed significant political and economic changes since 2011. Through this transition, which includes periods of political unrest, the main income sources of the economy have been negatively impacted, particularly in the tourism sector, as well as revenues from the Suez Canal, oil and remittances from Egyptians working abroad.
Despite visible progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Egypt has not reached the anticipated targets for poverty reduction, environmental protection and gender equity. Egypt is still working on issues related to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
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UNDP – Egypt