EL SALVADOR: Don Bosco University Provides Free Educational Workshops to More Than 4,500 Students
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco University, located in Soyapango, El Salvador in collaboration with the organization Save the Children have joined forces to coordinate the “Formarte Joven” program for youth. Since 2013, the two organizations have been offering complementary education to youth in 72 educational centers in Sonsonate, Ahuachapán and La Paz.
As part of this program, nearly 4,500 youth have attended workshops focused on creativity, conflict management, interpersonal relations, leadership development activities, and more. The first workshops were in art, painting, color theory and modelling in resin. Another part of the program covers oral and written expression, along with daily music lessons. Nearly 80 percent of students enrolled in one program, enroll in a second. Salesian missionaries aim to train an additional 1,400 youth in 2016.
“The central idea of the program is to start from children’s potential,” says Dr. Norma Cortez, director of the program. “The aim is to channel their creativity into productive activities. This opens up new learning opportunities, and this kind of learning can become a way of life for them, with positive effects also in the context of entrepreneurship.”
Dr. Cortez notes that the program takes nearly $150,000 to execute, which is provided by Save the Children, to operate effectively for transportation for the students, the purchase of materials and uniforms, and for teachers. Save the Children is also in charge of the workshops on conflict management and the decision-making processes. Dr. Cortez notes that the goal of these programs is to build a culture of peace and prevention of violence.
Close to 35 percent of El Salvador’s population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. Youth in El Salvador are confronted not only with poverty, but with instability, high levels of violence and inadequate access to educational opportunities. Despite ranking high for economic indicators, the need for practical education in the country is more important than ever with 12 percent of youth ages 15 to 24 unemployed and 41 percent underemployed.
El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in Central America, along with Honduras and Guatemala. The murder rate in El Salvador rose more than 44 percent in the beginning months of 2014 when compared to the same time last year. Gang violence is a leading cause of violence in the country and it’s estimated that some 60,000 young people have gang affiliation. Gang involvement often offers a sense of family and belonging that counters the lack of education and employment opportunities offered in the country.
“Education is a path out of poverty,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth who access Salesian programs are given an educational foundation, skill training and life and social skills to help them excel in the workforce. They are then able to break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their communities.”
World Bank – El Salvador
Salesian Missions – El Salvador