SAMOA: Salesian missionaries provide education and workforce development programs for poor and at-risk youth at two educational centers
(MissionNewswire) Both the Don Bosco Technical Center in Alafua and the Don Bosco Co-educational High School and Vocational Center in Salelologa, continue to provide education and training to the local youth in Samoa. Both schools provide educational opportunities for students whose parents are unable to finance their education.
Now in its 30th year, the Don Bosco Technical Center in Alafua provides education for young men aged 16-22 who have not been able to complete mainstream schooling due to poverty, prior drop-outs, or other serious family and social problems. Recently, the center extended the duration of the work experience students take from two weeks to four weeks. This has already brought success. Four students who have been studying plumbing and sheet metal so impressed the Samoan Water Authority with their know-how and dedication that they were offered work immediately.
The importance of a work-study experience has been backed by a study conducted by the Samoan Qualification Authority, which also found that the Salesian technical school has the highest number of graduates that go on to be enrolled in the private sector. The center places an emphasis on building confidence, self-esteem and teamwork, as well as a love of culture through singing and dancing.
The Don Bosco High School and Vocational Center at Salelologa offers education to 300 students. Many 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.
The school boasts excellent facilities, which are also used by the community and as a sporting venue for competitions held against other schools in the area. Recently, the Samoa Observer newspaper held its Samoan Schools Short Story competition, which has prize divisions for each level of high school in both Samoan and English languages. In the article about the event, it was noted, “It was evident from a massive block of yellow and green uniforms that students from Don Bosco dominated in numbers at the prize giving.”
The teachers were pleased with the results and pointed out that at last year’s competition nine students received placement in the standings and this year it was 13 students. Two students placed first in their respective categories.
“Salesian missionaries in Samoa work directly with poor and disadvantaged youth to provide hope for a positive future through education and training as well as sporting, recreational and cultural activities,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries live in the communities they work which provides them the unique experience of understanding first-hand the hardships and challenges faced by residents. This allows missionaries to adapt and add new programs to meet local needs and develop skilled labor for the local economy.”
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. Youth find it increasingly difficult to find livable wage employment in the country.
Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Aid Fund Annual Report 2018
Salesian Missions – Samoa
World Bank – Samoa