GLOBAL: Salesian Missions highlights literacy and educational initiatives for poor and at-risk youth on International Literacy Day
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and international organizations around the globe in celebrating International Literacy Day. Celebrated each year on Sept 8, the day was launched in 1967 to “remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.”
The theme for International Literacy Day 2018 is “Literacy and skills development.” UNESCO notes that despite progress made, literacy challenges persist while the demands for a highly-skilled labor force continues to evolve. This year, International Literacy Day “explores and highlights integrated approaches that simultaneously can support the development of literacy and skills to ultimately improve people’s life and work and contribute to equitable and sustainable societies.”
The International Conference on ‘Literacy and Skills Development’, held this year in Paris, France on Sept 7, will explore ways to make effective connections between literacy and technical and vocational skills in policies, practice, systems and governance.
“Salesian missionaries focus educational efforts on literacy and an array of other foundational skill building initiatives,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian programs aim to provide youth with the education needed to find and retain long-term employment in order to help them break the cycle of poverty and contribute back to their families and communities.”
In honor and celebration of International Literacy Day 2018, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs that focus on literacy and skill building for youth.
Salesian missionaries across Brazil and around the globe focus on education, social programs and workforce development services to help poor youth gain an education and the skills for long-term employment. The goal is to help them break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their community.
Jeferson Gabriel Ferreira, a 13-year-old student at the Salesian Institute São Gonçalo, was a finalist for the Good Example Award. The award is a prize offered in the state of Mato Grosso and promoted by TV “Centro América,” an affiliate of the “Rede Globe” of Cuiabá. It highlights and acknowledges positive individual initiatives that help to improve society. Ferreira is committed to creating a library for the community in Várzea Grande all by himself. The initiative is the result of his love of books and the absence of a library in the area.
Ferreira noted that the idea came to him to start a library after he began going house to house collecting books. He ended up with a collection of more than 6,000 books and wanted to be able to share them with others in the community. Ferreira’s focus on literacy and working to build a library stems from the positive education values instilled in him by his Salesian education.
Thanks to donor funding through Salesian Missions, the Don Bosco School in Minga Guazú, Paraguay will have an improved library for its students and the entire educational community. The school serves more than 1,200 students in its nursery program, preschool and grades one through nine as well as scientific and technical classes for older youth.
The donor funding will cover the costs for improvements to the library including the purchase of comfortable furniture and work spaces for students as well as new computers. Funding will also be used to update books, resource materials for students and teachers, magazines and other reading materials. This includes new children’s and youth literature which the library has not previously offered.
The library will be an essential part of the Don Bosco School giving students access to additional reading materials to reinforce their classroom education. It will also serve as a quiet place for students to study and connect with teachers for extra help.
Salesian missionaries launched an Agricultural Technology Center and adjacent Don Bosco Demonstration Farm in the city of Legazpi in 2000. Salesian programs offered at the center follow that of others in the Philippines that aim to educate poor and at-risk youth to ensure they gain an education and the skills necessary for future employment.
The Agricultural Technology Center educates 170 rural youth each year and the farm helps more than 2,000 young graduates develop an agricultural livelihood. The center offers its students an opportunity to combine theory with practice. The young students learn in the classroom as well as through a hands-on approach. They are able to take their classroom skills and put them directly to use in the fields that are a part of the center. Students are offered theoretical and practical courses in greenhouses, growing vegetables, cereal crops, gardening, breeding, animal husbandry, veterinary sciences and milk, cheese and dairy products.
The Don Bosco Demonstration Farm further allows graduates and their families to use the land to organize small cooperatives while providing assistance in farming, the marketing of agricultural products and sourcing microfinancing.
The mission of the Salesian center and farm is to provide a basic education as well as advanced courses in the latest agricultural practices and modern technologies while highlighting efficiency in farming through the exploration and testing of new techniques in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and animal husbandry. Salesian missionaries hope the program will entice more local youth to choose agriculture as their long-term livelihood.
A new Don Bosco Skills Training Center has been built in Delft, a small and overcrowded township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. Salesian Sister Ana Maria Mainero hopes the center is providing an alternative to gang life for poor youth. In a Global Sisters Report article, Sr. Mainero, who works in Delft, is worried that gang life is so common in the township that it’s too easy for youth without alternatives to make the wrong decisions.
Also in the article, Sr. Mainero said that she believes teaching young people concrete skills, combined with a healthy dose of confidence-building and faith learning, will help graduates land jobs that will keep them out of gangs. She added, “The great concern is that the gangs take the young people in at a very early age. The children are familiar with gangs and they grow up with that as something normal.”
The Don Bosco Skills Training Center is initially serving 15 youth at a time and provides training in literacy, computers and hospitality skills along with soft skills like self-confidence and responsibility. The courses are designed for those who have dropped out of high school, a serious problem that further limits employment opportunities in a place where jobs are already scarce.