SOLOMON ISLANDS: Don Bosco Rural Training Center provides educational initiatives and partnerships to ensure youth find and retain employment
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run Don Bosco Rural Training Center in Tetere Bay in the Solomon Islands is working to bring educational and workforce development opportunities to poor youth in rural areas. Programs at the center help youth gain a basic education as well as the vocational or technical skills needed to find and retain employment.
More than 200 young men and women are enrolled at the school to learn farming and other high demand trades. Courses are offered in planting and care of crops such as rice, corn, vegetables, root crops and fruit trees as well as basic fish farming and forestry. There are also courses in basic mechanics, carpentry, electrical work, computer skills and dressmaking. In addition, literacy and music classes are available in the evening.
“Most of the students who attend the center are from poor families who have dropped out of traditional schools,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “At the Don Bosco Rural Training Center, these students are getting a second chance to acquire skills that will enable them to find a job and support themselves and their families.”
The center benefits from a partnership with the Rotary Club of North Balwyn, located on the outskirts of the city of Melbourne in Australia, which helps provides program and infrastructure support as well as encouragement to the Salesian missionaries and teachers who operate the center. The club’s support has injected new life and enthusiasm into the center through new ideas and practical suggestions.
The Rotary recently supplied the center with 90 chickens and training in poultry care. The eggs produced are a sustainable source of protein for the students and the care of the chickens serves as a hands-on educational lesson. The four-hectare rice plantation has remained a constant source of income for the school producing eight tons of rice annually.
Graduates of the school have found success with companies throughout the Solomon Islands. Salesian missionaries have partnerships with local companies to help students gain both job training placements and full-time employment. All participants have received glowing feedback from their managers.
Working together, the Don Bosco Rural Training Center and the Ministry of Agriculture are looking to establish a partnership with a nearby cocoa and tree plantation for student placements and with the Solomon Islands National University to increase the levels of training that students and teachers receive.
“The Don Bosco Rural Training Center has the potential to be one of the Solomon Islands’ greatest producers of a new generation of youth who possess the energy, technical skills and integrity to help advance the country,” adds Fr. Hyde.
About 12.7 percent of the population of the Solomon Islands lives below the poverty line. Roughly 20 to 25 percent of youth in the country never attend primary school with 30 percent of those attending, never completing. Limited access to education and an adult literacy rate of less than 35 percent perpetuate the cycle of poverty from generation to generation.
Eighty-four percent of Solomon Islanders reside in rural areas and rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Access to health and other social services is very limited and the poor to non-existent access to reliable transport, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure compounds already challenging economic conditions. With the majority of youth living in remote areas with limited educational and employment prospects, overcoming poverty is an uphill battle.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
UNICEF – Solomon Islands