SENEGAL: Center Kër Don Bosco Trains 220 in Professional Trades and Literacy Education
(MissionNewswire) A Salesian-run project trained 70 women in professional trades and 150 women in literacy courses at the Center Kër Don Bosco in Dakar, the capital and largest city in Senegal. This training project was aimed at mothers, pregnant women and single women with daughters. The goal was to combat the high unemployment rate of the many vulnerable women with few professional qualifications living in the Yoff district located on the outskirts of the city.
Located on the west coast of Africa, Senegal has close to half its population living in poverty. Crop failures due to extreme weather have impacted the economy and, combined with a recent ban on street beggars, has taken away the only source of income from many families. A recent report by the Chronic Poverty Research Center found that not only are 60 percent of households labeled “poor or vulnerable” but there is a possibility that the poverty will be passed on to the next generation. A sign of hope in the country is the steadily increasing percentage of children enrolled in primary school, which according to the World Bank has reached 86 percent.
Inequalities between men and women exist in the country with many women unable to access education or equal opportunities in the labor market. Women only represent 13 percent of all those employed. Contributing to the high rate of unemployment is a high rate of illiteracy among youth in rural areas, especially women and girls.
To address these challenges, Salesian missionaries opened Center Kër Don Bosco in January 2015 as part of an ongoing Salesian educational building project facilitated by Solidaridad Don Bosco, a non-governmental organization that is part of the broader Don Bosco Network in Spain. The new center provides education, vocational training and apprenticeship opportunities to disadvantaged youth and women.
Focused specifically on helping women gain opportunities in the workforce, the center is offering two literacy classes as well as a safe space for studying. Women in Senegal are often heads of households but lack the training and confidence to try to enter the workforce or advance into higher paying jobs. The center’s goal is to help women connect with their peers and provide access to employment training to boost confidence and improve employment prospects.
Boasting a large multipurpose room, computer room, three laboratories, two classrooms for literacy education, a meeting room and some offices, Center Kër Don Bosco sits right in the middle of the neighborhood and is open to those seeking educational services. There is an information office which provides notices about upcoming training and work opportunities as well as counseling and career guidance. The facilities at the center are also available to community associations for organized meetings and activities as well as for sports, leisure and recreation activities for children and youth.
“Salesian missionaries opened the new center in Senegal to address the high rate of unemployment and limited skilled labor among poor youth in the Yoff district,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In addition to serving local youth, the center is focusing on training women who are often underrepresented in the workforce and lack educational and advancement opportunities.”
Prior to the opening of Center Kër Don Bosco, there were few places for disadvantaged youth to access the skills and qualifications necessary to develop a trade and gain stable employment. To address this need, Salesian missionaries are offering vocational training in tailoring, cooking, plumbing, construction and yarn dying. In addition to classroom training in these subjects, students will have the opportunity to apprentice in local businesses where they will have access to hands-on training by professionals in their fields. In this way, students will be able to apply the lessons and skills learned in the classroom in a real working environment while also accessing social skills training to prepare for stable long-term employment.
Chronic Poverty Research Center – Chronic Poverty in Senegal
World Bank- Senegal