ITALY: More than 3,000 youth served as project completed
Salesian project provided education support for more than 3,000 youth over 4 years
(MissionNewswire) Salesians for the Social has completed a four-year project that helped youth who were at risk of social inequalities and educational struggles. The “Giving more to those who had less” project covered 14 territories in seven Italian regions including Calabria, Campania, Puglia, Sicily, Lazio, Liguria and Marche. The project focused on youth who were at risk of leaving school early and suffered from poverty.
The goal of the project was to educate youth to increase their knowledge of their rights and duties, and improve their use of services and educational opportunities. Teachers also provided workshops for families. During the course of the project, more than 3,000 boys attended programs with the support of 1,200 teachers and 1,300 parents. Close to 460 organizations were also involved in the project.
“Social and educational support makes sense given that we do not all start with the same abilities, and the goal is to give everyone an opportunity to do something good in life,” said Dr. Andrea Sebastiani, director of Salesians for the Social.
Roberto Maurizio, scientific head of the project, stressed the importance of collaboration with schools and the importance of creating individual paths for youth so that they could focus on what they wanted for the future. He said, “Alone you cannot reduce educational poverty, but it is work that must be done in synergy. You cannot work for people, but with people, because addressing the poverty of children means addressing the poverty of families.”
The project had challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Salesian educators still worked with youth remotely during this time, engaging them in school activities. While work with youth continued, there was also a focus on social policies and family support measures that made it possible for youth to dream about the future.
“The process led to building the educational community, made up of oratories, associations, and schools, around the adolescent, which was the only viable road capable of breaking down inequalities,” said Father Francesco Preite, president of Salesians for the Social. “Strengthening daytime educational centers for minors and activating innovative processes to help youth are two objectives to be pursued in the immediate future.”
Salesian programs across Italy help youth who are unable to attend school and others who drop out to work at the few jobs available to them. A growing number of children work as laborers on farms and others have turned to the sex trade to help support their families. Those in poverty often live without adequate shelter, hot water, regular meals and health care.
Poverty rose sharply in 2020 to its highest level in 15 years as the COVID-19 crisis brought economic challenges for much of the country. Close to 5.6 million people or 9.4 percent of the population are living in absolute poverty unable to buy goods or services to achieve a minimally acceptable standard of living, according to the World Bank. This number includes 1.3 million minors.
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Salesian Missions – Italy
World Bank – Italy