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GUATEMALA: Teacher Training Program Gives Youth Second Chance

(MissionNewswire) Under the leadership of Salesian missionary, Father Anthony De Groot, education for poor male youth is thriving in Guatemala thanks to a teacher training program made possible by the Don Bosco Center. Fr. De Groot came to the Carchá mission in the Alta Verapz region in 1975, and has worked to help youth break the cycle of poverty and improve their lives through education ever since.

Upon his arrival in Guatemala, Fr. De Groot was immediately struck by the extreme poverty and deprivation in the mountain communities. What started for him as an effort to provide support to remote villages neglected during a civil war, turned into an educational revolution resulting in the training of hundreds of teachers while offering poor youth a second chance.

The Salesians are working hard to reduce poverty in Guatemala where, according to UNICEF, the percentage of children living in poverty has not improved over the past 20 years. One in five families makes less than $1 a day and rural communities are desperate for new programs and resources that will benefit their impoverished citizens.

“Determined to make a difference, Fr. De Groot began visiting the villages to build hope and offer support,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “After a while, he realized much more was needed to be done especially for the sake of the children. He started to build schools and initiated a teacher training program.”

Today, 835 local students are training to become teachers by enrolling in a series of courses that span a three-year period. Upon receiving their teaching certificates, these students will go on to teach in as many as 600 villages throughout Guatemala.

In addition to the teacher training program, the Don Bosco Center offers classes in basic school subjects, giving special attention to technical skills that are useful in the local economy.

The Don Bosco Center is the male counterpart to a local educational project for girls known as Talita Kumi, started by a Salesian missionary from India, Father Jorge Puthenpura, and now run by the Salesian Sisters of the Resurrection. This program works to raise the status of women and empower them to become household and community decision-makers.

“Both of these educational efforts are part of the much broader mission and activities developed by the Salesian community in Guatemala,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Our educational programs have been very successful. Since the teacher training program was initiated, the number of schools in the region has doubled, and more children than ever are getting the chance to build a brighter future.”

Learn more about Salesian Missions programs in Guatemala >



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