SUDAN: Degree Training Programs Help Youth Find Stable Employment
(MissionNewswire) The Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world with 46 percent of its population living in poverty, according to UNICEF. Low incomes and food deficiencies are commonplace and ongoing violence and civil unrest exacerbate already harsh conditions. Despite these challenges, more youth are in school today than ever before with school attendance up to 73 percent compared to 68 percent in 2008. There remain, however, some 3.2 million children between the ages of six and 16, out of school, with the highest rates among nomadic populations and those living in rural areas and in the poorest households.
School enrollment and retention is affected by weak curriculums in Sudanese schools and inadequate educational materials and teacher training (according to UNICEF, more than 40 percent of teachers are untrained). Ongoing conflict and the high cost of education, particularly in rural areas where parents have to pay school fees, also affect enrollment rates.
To meet the needs of the millions of out-of-school youth, Salesians in the Sudan are working to educate poor youth and provide them a path out of poverty. The Salesian-run Don Bosco Technical School in El Obeid, the capital of the state of North Kordofan in southern Sudan, has been providing services and educational opportunities for poor youth since 2001. Since its inception, more than 1000 youth have received education, training and workforce development services.
Don Bosco Technical School offers a variety of programs to best meet the needs of the youth it serves. Soon after the school opened, one-year intensive training programs began in auto mechanics, general mechanics, welding, electricity, building, carpentry and plumbing. These programs trained students to become qualified professionals, ready to join the workforce. And with career counseling and job placement services provided once students complete their studies, close to 70 percent of the more than 600 graduates of these programs have found stable employment in their chosen fields.
In 2004, the technical school expanded to offer more extensive, three-year degree programs. Sine then, more than 300 students have successfully completed the three-year degree programs with 80 percent of those graduating finding stable employment in their field of study.
“Gaining an education can provide new opportunities young people never imagined were possible,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Salesian programs are able to meet the diverse needs of their students, allowing them to focus on their studies while gaining life skills to help them make better decisions and find future employment.”
Salesian programs in the Sudan also offer students a chance to access health services and nutritional assistance. One program for street youth provides 24 hour care to 35 young boys and gives them access to free housing, nutrition, school fees, medication and clothing. An evening program provides educational opportunities to an additional 120 young boys and girls who receive a free education, textbooks, school stationery and an evening meal.
“All youth deserve a chance at a better life,” adds Fr. Hyde. “At Don Bosco Technical School, Salesians help youth overcome barriers to success while teaching them how to take responsibility for their own lives. By providing youth an education and the necessary skills to find and retain employment, they are able to support themselves and help their communities.”
UNCEF – Poverty in Sudan