SOLOMON ISLANDS: New Salesian Partnership Paves Way for Poor Youth to Access Critical Technical Education
(MissionNewswire) A low adult literacy rate and limited access to education in the Solomon Islands perpetuates the cycle of poverty from generation to generation. UNICEF notes that the country has an adult literacy rate of less than 35 percent. In addition, close to 20-25 percent of youth never attend primary school with another 30 percent of those attending never completing. With almost 40 percent of the population living in poverty, the Solomon Islands remains one of the poorest countries in the Pacific region.
The majority of children living in the Solomon Islands live in remote areas where access to education is almost unheard of. Combined with few employment prospects, youth face an uphill climb out of poverty.
A new program at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Honiara is helping youth overcome these challenges, bringing hope and fresh opportunities. Recently, the Australia-Pacific Technical College—an Australian government program—chose the Salesian-run Don Bosco Technical Institute as the location for its new campus. Set up as a technical and professional training college for youth in the Pacific, the Australia-Pacific Technical College is sustained by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
Supporting investments in training and skills development is a key focus of the Solomon Islands-Australia Partnership for Development and, more widely in the Pacific, for AusAID. The Australia-Pacific Technical College was established in 2007 to increase the number of skilled workers in the Pacific, and improve employment opportunities for Pacific Islanders. More than 4,950 Pacific Islanders have graduated with new skills from the college’s four campuses in Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.
The new partnership with Don Bosco Technical Institute allows for many more students to receive critical job training, education and skills than previously had access. The partnership will fund tuition for students and support upgrades to Don Bosco’s facilities.
“Up to 300 students will now have the chance to gain internationally recognized qualifications in automotive repair and construction over the next three years,” says Peter Baxter, director general of the Australian Agency for International Development. “They will join more than 490 Solomon Islanders who have already graduated from Australia-Pacific Technical College and now have the skills, training and confidence to take advantage of job opportunities, either in Solomon Islands or in the region.”
Students from all over the Solomon Islands will have an opportunity to study and achieve internationally recognized certification in automotive repair or construction, engineering, hospitality and community services. The demand for these specialized skills means economic opportunities and brighter prospects for youth who come from generations of poverty.
“I am pleased that we are partnering with Don Bosco—an important institution of teaching, learning and training in Solomon Islands,” adds Baxter. “This partnership will give more Solomon Islanders the chance to learn new skills and secure a job.”
UNICEF – Solomon Islands