SOUTH AFRICA: Youth find support to change their lives
Salesian Institute Youth Projects helps poor and homeless youth gain the skills for employment
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Institute Youth Projects has been providing education, emotional support and skills development training for at-risk youth in Cape Town, South Africa since 1910. Over its history, the institute has been instrumental in changing the lives of hundreds of youth who would otherwise not have been able to access the job market. These youth had been homeless, unemployed and impoverished, but they had access to the education that helped them gain employment.
One Salesian said, “More than 60 percent of South Africa’s total population is under the age of 34 years, and many are struggling to gain access to quality education. Inexperienced individuals, especially those who are desperate for employment, are at risk of falling into the vicious cycle of unemployment and a bleak future.”
Committed to making a difference for those who need it the most, the institute’s skills development model focuses on providing opportunities for youth who may not have completed their mainstream schooling or access to skills training.
There are four main educational tracks youth. The “Learn to Live School of Skills” program caters to youth ages 14 to 18, who are no longer part of mainstream schooling. The four-year program provides basic education and vocational skills training. The “Waves of Change Maritime Program” is for youth or adults up to age 35 who want to work at sea in the fishing and maritime industry. The “Porsche Mechatronics Program” enables youth to work in the automotive sector, and the “NEETs Youth Employability Program” offers a national certificate in small venture creation for youth interested in entrepreneurship. Life skills training is also an integral part of the all the training programs.
Yumnah Baradien, a graduate of Salesian Institute Youth Projects, said, “I learned everything here. Not only entrepreneurship but self-esteem, how to start your own business, where to go, who to talk to and how to ask for help when you need it. I learned many things that I thought I would have to go elsewhere for.”
All of the programs are designed to provide a positive alternative to drugs, alcohol, and violence, and they allow youth to learn the skills necessary for employment. After graduating many youth work as entrepreneurs and strive to employ others from their neighborhoods while others join industries and move forward in changing the dynamics of the workforce.
Poverty is extensive in South Africa with more than half the population and more than 63 percent of children living below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. A significant percentage of the population struggles to survive on less than $1 a day. The country is plagued by high crime rates and violence against women and girls and has been the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS crisis in the world. There is an urgent need for education to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus and to help lift youth out of poverty.
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Salesian Missions – South Africa
UNICEF – South Africa