SENEGAL: New Vocational Training Program Brings Opportunities to Girls
(MissionNewswire) 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. According to the World Bank, that number has reached 86 percent.
Salesians in Senegal have been providing vocational and technical training programs to local youth for many years. The Vocational Training Center of Tambacounda, one of three Salesian programs in the country, recently announced the opening of a center of excellence in information technology and communication. One of the primary goals of the center is to provide young girls access to traditional professional courses. To date, only six out of 137 students are female.
A pioneer program in technical education and vocational training in Tambacounda, the center has trained over 2280 students in automobile mechanics and electrical work, both traditionally non-female dominated fields. Expansion of the program expects to attract more female students, granting further access to professional training.
“The constant expansion of our programs is important to us and provides access to education to all youth who want to improve their quality of life,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The program in Senegal is one among many throughout the 132 countries we serve that highlights the importance of furthering education for girls.”
The Vocational Training Center of Tambacounda was opened more than 30 years ago with just four students enrolled in a course for the production of metals. With no classrooms to speak of, the students were taught under a tree. Since its humble beginnings, the center has expanded to include a wide variety of courses as well as a driving school that serves, in particular, students enrolled in the automobile mechanics courses.
“A visit to the center will show that we are up to date with the latest innovations, and fully in line with the changes and developments in information technology and clean energy,” says Brother Francesco Coly, SDB and director of the center. “In all the courses, from construction to hotel management, students are provided with knowledge of the latest developments in the industry.”
Chronic Poverty Research Center – Chronic Poverty in Senegal
World Bank- Senegal