PERU: Salesian Center Provides Educational Programs for Students with Disabilities
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries at the CETPRO Santo Domingo Savio Technical Center in Lima, Peru, provide training for young people with disabilities. They have also launched an awareness campaign to bring more attention to the abilities of those living with a disability in the country. According to the National Council for the Integration of People with Disabilities, about 1.5 million Peruvians have some kind of disability. That means nearly five percent of the total population lives with some limitation in moving, seeing, feeling, understanding and communicating.
The CETPRO Center houses hundreds of young people and provides a family home for youth and an oratory that welcomes both boys and girls. The center works in cooperation with the Don Bosco Foundation of Peru and the Share Campaign of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference to train youth with special educational needs. Through this campaign, several young people with sensory disabilities benefit and are being successfully trained in screen printing and tailoring laboratories.
In addition, in coordination with specialists from the Service of Support and Consultation for the Care of Special Educational Needs (SAANEE), a seminar was organized for all CETPRO students to raise their awareness of the great efforts that their disadvantaged peers put forth to gain an education and how they face and overcome to achieve their goals. All students have been encouraged to show respect, tolerance and a willingness to help their peers who have different skills and to collaborate with them.
For children with disabilities access to education is limited and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty is almost nonexistent. UNICEF notes in its State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities report that globally close to 61 percent of boys finish school but for boys with disabilities that number drops to 51 percent. For girls, 53 percent finish school but among those living with a disability, only 42 percent finish their education.
The UNICEF report also notes that studies across countries show a strong link between poverty and disability, which in turn is linked to gender, health and employment issues. The report further suggests that inclusion in mainstream schools and educational settings is usually most appropriate for children with disabilities and when teachers and personnel are trained to consider disability-related issues, they look upon inclusion of children with disabilities more positively.
“Children living in poverty with a disability are even less likely to attend school when compared to their peers,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth with disabilities have the same ability to achieve as their peers, if given the opportunity. CETPRO Santo Domingo Savio Technical Center is working to make sure that all students have access to the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities.”
Peru faces high levels of income inequality and has more than a quarter of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Poverty levels are significantly higher in rural areas but urban areas struggle most with inequality, most notably metropolitan Lima. Poverty in the country is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of job skills among women entering the workforce, as well as a lack of adequate housing, nutrition and education.
Peru has also been plagued by hunger and disaster. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of children in the country are chronically malnourished. Communities continue to rebuild after an 8.0 earthquake in August 2007 which killed more than 500 people in the central coastal cities of Chincha, Pisco and Ica and injured hundreds more. The quake destroyed close to 60,000 residential and commercial buildings, leveled hundreds of acres of farmland and left countless Peruvians without means of livelihood.
World Bank – Peru