MALI: New Salesian St. John Bosco high school provides education for more than 400 youth from 17 local villages
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have built a secondary school in Touba, a small town in Mali, where there were no educational institutions at this level. In February, the St. John Bosco secondary school was completed with the assistance of the Spanish Salesian organization Solidaridad Don Bosco, which aims to assist youth at risk of social exclusion to access quality education.
In the past, many youth from Touba ended primary school at the age of 12 or 13 years old, and then had to move to the nearest city, more than 20 kilometers away, to continue their studies. Salesian missionaries launched the construction of the secondary school because the area offered no educational institute for older students. The high school now serves more than 400 youth from 17 villages in the region.
Together with the construction of the new school, Salesian missionaries’ gender awareness development plan has also continued to facilitate girls’ access to education and to foster and welcome their participation in the activities of the local oratory.
This project also aims to improve the quality of the educational services provided by investing in teacher education, the purchase of books for the library, the creation of a study hall that will remain open all day, and on the strengthening of the management and planning capability of the center. The goal is to provide poor youth in Mali the educational opportunities needed to gain the foundational schooling and then later the vocational and technical skills needed to find and retain employment.
Salesian missionaries’ primary focus in the country is on the education of poor youth. They accomplish this through the operation of six primary schools, three secondary schools and six vocational training centers for older youth. At all these Salesian-run educational facilities, youth are able to gain an education while having access to support services, including family sponsorship and school feeding programs, that provide care for them and their families all with the goal of keeping youth in school as long as possible.
“Education is always our primary focus,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “But we know youth in Mali are dealing with much more than just having access to education. Salesian programs are tailored to meet the needs of the youth in the communities they serve. Homeless and malnourished youth are simply not able to focus effectively on their studies while they struggle to meet their basic needs. Our services provide food and shelter so youth are able to focus on the education provided.”
Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa and one of the five least developed countries in the world. More than 90 percent of Mali’s population lives in the more fertile southern region of the country. Nearly 75 percent of the population depends on agriculture, but the lack of rain often limits their crops. The country also has a drought every 10 to 15 years.
According to the World Bank, poverty in Mali is pervasive. Food sufficiency is dependent on the harshness and unpredictability of the climate, which is compounded by seasonal variations in the weather, which tend to be particularly acute during the pre-harvest period. While Mali experienced an overall drop in national poverty from 55.6 percent in 2001 to 43.6 percent in 2010, regional differences persist and in 2013, the poverty rate rebounded to 45 percent. Mali ranks 179 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index for 2015.
World Bank – Mali