SUDAN: More than 1,200 Youth Receive Education, Employment Opportunities at Salesian Technical School
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries at the Don Bosco Technical School in El Obeid, the capital city of the state of North Kordofan in southern Sudan, have been providing social development services and educational opportunities to poor youth since 2001. Since the technical school’s inception, more than 1200 youth have received education, employment training and workforce development services.
Offering one-year intensive training programs in auto mechanics, general mechanics, welding, electricity, building, carpentry and plumbing, the technical school trains its students in the skills necessary to become qualified professionals. Career counseling and job placement services help students make the transition from the classroom into the workforce with more than 75 percent of graduates finding employment in their chosen field.
In response to a need for more advanced professional training in 2004, the technical school expanded its offerings to include more extensive three-year degree programs. Since then, more than 300 students have successfully completed three-year degree programs with 80 percent of those graduating finding stable employment in their field of study.
Many students who attend the technical school are escaping the violence of a civil war that has torn apart South Sudan and disrupted its education system. Joseph, a 15 year old boy, was forced to abandon his home and flee to a refugee camp where he found few opportunities to gain an education. Since being accepted into the Don Bosco Technical Center, he is being educated and learning a trade, giving him the opportunity for future employment and a productive, stable life. He is one of 400 boys who attend the school from around the country.
“Access to education provides opportunities to youth they may never have imagined 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 students, allowing them to focus on their studies while gaining life skills that help them make better decisions and find future employment.”
With more than 46 percent of its population living in poverty, the Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, 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, 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.
“All youth deserve a chance at a better life,” adds Fr. Hyde. “At Don Bosco Technical School, Salesian missionaries 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.”
UNICEF – Poverty in Sudan