PARAGUAY: Salesian Institute Launches New Agriculture Training Program for Rural Youth
(MissionNewsire) The Carlos Pfannl Salesian Institute of Coronel Oviedo, named for its benefactor, has launched a new project known as “Poverty reduction and sustainable improvement in the living conditions of producers and technical training of young people in the Caaguazú Department.” The project was developed in response to the International Labour Office’s report that among the most serious problems within the rural sector of Paraguay is low productivity and insufficient wages for workers.
The International Labour Office has reported that the agro-pastoral sector has the highest incidence of violations of fundamental rights of workers, high frequency of accidents, health problems at work and discrimination. Rural villages in the country remain behind in development. The Salesian Institute, which has trained thousands of youth at a national level, has always supported rural communities and the smaller farms within the villages. Today more than ever, those responsible for the Salesian Institute feel engaged in the economic development and production of the country and felt the time was right for this new training project.
The project will provide young farmers with a basic education as well as advanced studies in the latest agricultural practices and modern technologies while moving towards efficiency in farming by exploring and testing new techniques in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and animal husbandry. The school provides both classroom education and hands-on agriculture and livestock training on a working farm on the school campus.
Salesian missionaries at the school hope the agriculture degree program will entice more local youth to choose agriculture as their long-term livelihood. With a long history of providing agricultural education, missionaries currently operate more than 90 agriculture schools around the world.
“Many of our students are the children of poor farmers in the area,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “We want to provide youth with new farming knowledge and skills they can make a good life for themselves while helping to support their families and community.”
Paraguay is among the poorest countries in South America. According to UNICEF, almost 23 percent of its population of 6.5 million people live in poverty earning less than $1 per day. The gap between the small upper class and the large lower class is extreme and offers virtually no social mobility. Conditions of poverty drive youth into early labor and a lack of literacy in addition to a weak educational foundation compounds the problem. Those in poverty face overcrowding, low quality housing and a lack of access to basic household services. Paraguayans who only graduate from primary school are twice as likely to live in poverty as those who have access to and complete secondary school.
Poverty in Paraguay is associated with lower education levels, female heads of households and migration. Agriculture is among the most important employment sectors in the country’s economy. Those in poverty face overcrowding, low quality housing, and a lack of access to basic household services. Those that only graduate from primary school are twice as likely to live in poverty as those that have access to and complete secondary school.
The Salesians have been working in Paraguay since 1896, beginning their work in the capital Asunción, near the port on the Paraguay River. There, they established a church and educational programs focusing on the arts and trades to help advance the skills and knowledge of the indigenous people.
International Labour Office – Paraguay
World Bank – Paraguay