TANZANIA: Salesian Vocational Training Centers Give Youth a Second Chance
(MissionNewswire) Almost one third of people in Tanzania live in poverty, according to UNICEF. While the country has seen some economic growth in tourism, mining, trade and communication, the number of Tanzanians living below the poverty line has marginally increased due to rapid population growth. In some regions, up to half of the population struggle to meet the cost of essential food and shelter and other basic necessities like clothing, healthcare and education.
Children suffer the greatest in the country with almost 70 percent facing deprivation in two or more of the areas of health, nutrition, sanitation, education, access to information, water supply and shelter. UNICEF notes that levels of deprivation among youth living in rural areas is up to three times higher than those of urban youth. In addition, many of the nearly one million children orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic are forced to leave school due to poverty or to care for their families.
Salesians in Tanzania have been working to fill the educational gap in the country for more than 25 years. Tanzanian youth have gained access to education through Salesian schools and programs that have been developed to meet the most critical needs of the communities they serve.
When Salesians opened a secondary school in Didia, in northern Tanzania, it was the first secondary school within a 40 mile radius. Since its inception, girls have had the opportunity to acquire an education at this co-educational facility, the first school to accept girls in the region. Youth who have been orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic and have dropped out of school, have the opportunity to return to their studies and learn a trade at one of many Salesian-run vocational schools. These schools and other facilities are providing new opportunities for children, youth and families in communities throughout Tanzania.
“At Salesian technical and secondary schools and youth centers, Tanzanian youth are able to gain an education and develop skills to overcome obstacles,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco “They are often given a second chance in life by learning a trade of their choice in order to stand on their own and lead a productive life.”
Today, there are 10 vocational training centers in Tanzania where close to 500 youth access educational programs and training in trades that can lead to future stable employment. In one carpentry program, students are busy manufacturing furniture for a local restaurant. In other programs, students are learning masonry, tailoring, plumbing and computer studies. The vocational centers also offer services that prepare students for the workforce, providing training in searching, applying and interviewing for a job and in how to retain a job once a student is employed.
“Access to education is important for youth in Tanzania,” adds Fr. Hyde. “It is one of the primary pathways out of poverty. Students are graduating from Salesian vocational centers, finding employment and giving back to their families and communities.”
UNICEF – Poverty in Tanzania
Salesian Missions – Tanzania