SAMOA: Salesian missionaries highlight growth of programs for upcoming 40th anniversary celebration
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Samoa will soon celebrate their 40th anniversary working in the country. In honor of this significant anniversary, missionaries are reflecting back on how greatly programs have grown to meet the needs of poor youth in their communities. Two Salesian schools, the Don Bosco Technical Center in Alafua and the Don Bosco High School/Vocational Center at Salelologa, provide educational opportunities for students whose parents are unable to finance their education.
The Don Bosco Technical Center in Alafua has 22 instructors and teachers, two office staff and five Salesian missionaries who work collaboratively to operate the school. The first year the school was launched it had 74 students and has since grown by 74 percent to reach 198 students in 2019.
This increase of students is due to the proactive use of social media as well as joint action and information sessions in the Upolu and Savai’i islands with government and mission colleges in 2018. In addition, Salesian missionaries are growing a partnership with the Samoa Qualification Authority which accredits vocational training programs and also offers scholarships and subsidies for equipment and school upgrades.
Since most of the students attending Don Bosco Technical Center come from families who experience financial hardship, scholarship programs are vital. The partnership with the Samoa Qualification Authority is important for this reason as well as for its international certification standard for graduates and accreditation of program quality which ensures that Salesian education is up to the standard necessary for youth to find job placements after graduation.
“To sustain our school facility, we are working on projects that involve carpentry and welding and trying to maintain our school building with school fundraising activity. Government grants are also a good help. Since 1979 we have been grateful to the AUL Salesian province center in Melbourne and its Mission Office for the continuous support,” says Mr. Mane, principal of Don Bosco Technical School.
The Don Bosco High School/Vocational Center at Salelologa is now in its eighth year and has 224 students and 22 teachers. Many students come from remote villages on a school bus made available through the school. The center offers an integrated curriculum with academic and technical subjects designed to provide students with employment and human relations skills as well as self-reliance.
Salesian missionaries are looking at how they can better incorporate outdoor education, including games and sport, into the overall program. In November 2016, a new facility, Father Elio Proietto’s Hall, was officially opened after receiving funds from the Salesian Rector Major, the Don Bosco Mission in Turin, Italy and Salesian Missions in Madrid, Spain. With this additional facility, Don Bosco Salelologa continues to serve as an important center of education, meetings, conferences, youth gatherings and sport on the island of Savai’i. In addition, the new hall aids in self-sustainability because it will be rented out for events. In July 2019, it will host boxing matches that are part of the 2019 Pacific Games.
Samoa boasts one of the most stable and healthy economies in the Pacific region, according to the World Bank. The poverty rate, once just over 26 percent, has dropped closer to 20 percent as the country strives to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals, a blueprint driving efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.
Although Samoa has made impressive progress in social development, many rural communities in the country grapple with an unequal distribution of wealth and benefits. Poorer communities in remote parts of the islands are particularly vulnerable, especially in areas most likely to be affected by cyclones or other natural disasters. Gender inequality is apparent as women strive and often fail to find the same work and income opportunities as men and youth find it increasingly difficult to find livable wage employment in the country.
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World Bank – Samoa