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WORLD DAY OF PEACE: Salesian Missions highlights technology education for poor youth

Pope Francis focuses his message for the day on theme ‘Artificial Intelligence and Peace’

(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins Catholic organizations around the globe in honoring the Catholic World Day of Peace. Every year on Jan. 1, the Pope marks the day with a special message inviting all people to reflect on the important work of building peace. Pope Paul VI established the day in 1967, after he was inspired by the encyclical “Pacem in Terris” of Pope John XXIII and with reference to his own encyclical “Populorum Progressio”. The day was first observed on Jan. 1, 1968.

Pope Francis focused his message for the day on the theme “Artificial Intelligence and Peace”, highlighting the impact this advanced technology is having on human activity, personal and social life, politics, and the economy.

In a statement about the day on the Vatican website, Pope Francis calls for “an open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies, endowed with disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects. He recalls the need to be vigilant and to work so that a logic of violence and discrimination does not take root in the production and use of such devices, at the expense of the most fragile and excluded: injustice and inequalities fuel conflicts and antagonisms. The urgent need to orient the concept and use of artificial intelligence in a responsible way, so that it may be at the service of humanity and the protection of our common home, requires that ethical reflection be extended to the sphere of education and law.”

Technology education is a part of the Salesian education curriculum. The goal is to educate youth with 21st-century skills so that they are able to compete in the current job market. Having the same access to technology as their peers is critical for their future. Salesian students come from poor and marginalized backgrounds and in some areas just having access to basic education is a challenge.

To mark Catholic World Day of Peace 2024, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs around the globe that provide life-changing education with a focus on technology.

BOLIVIA

Students in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, are building their skills on new computer equipment thanks to a donation from Salesian Missions.

Students attending the Madre Cándida Center, located in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, have new computer equipment thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The funding provided 14 new computers to improve the computer laboratory which had obsolete and outdated equipment.

With the donation, students are now more comfortable in class and are working with equipment that helps prepare them for the job market and their careers. There are 125 students who access technical training offered by the center. They take courses in cutting and dress making, comprehensive beauty skills, executive secretarial work, machine embroidery, and computer systems. Twenty students in the computer systems course will benefit most from the donation.

A Salesian said, “Our students come from low-income families from the municipalities of Yapacaní in the Ichilo province. They do not have sufficient financial resources to enter the university or emigrate to the city to be able to pursue a degree at the undergraduate level, which is why they choose to study a technical degree near their communities. We are hoping with these new computers we also will be able to increase enrollment into the computer systems course.”

INDIA

In West Bengal, India, 200 students and teachers took part in a hands-on model for learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

St. Anthony’s School, located in Jaigaon in West Bengal, India, partnered with International STEAM Research to conduct a three-day DaVinci Innovation Camp for 200 teachers and students. STEAM is a hands-on model for learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Dr. George Panicker, founder and director of International STEAM Research and Don Bosco Kolkata alumnus, facilitated the camp. He said, “The camp gives an insight into the much-needed paradigm shift from traditional education philosophy, based on standardized test scores, to a modern ideal which focuses on valuing the learning process as much as the results.”

Panicker added, “Both students and teachers got to understand the new teaching and learning ecosystem model for experiential learning, aligned to National Education Policy 2020.” The new education policy promotes invention literacy through critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration, as well as develops students as future-ready problem solvers.

MYANMAR

The 300 students at a Salesian school in Myanmar have 25 laptops to help with their education and the learning of basic computer skills.

Students in a Salesian school in Myanmar* have laptop computers thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Donor funding was utilized to purchase 25 laptops to help the students with their education and for them to learn basic computer skills. The school set up internet and the electrical wiring for a new computer room for the 300 students as well as hired skilled staff to teach the course.

Father Khun Myat Victor, provincial economer in Myanmar, said, “We have just set up the computer room and the first group of young people have begun their lessons on basic computer skills.”

Myanmar has suffered political violence and instability since the military coup took over power in February 2021. There has been ongoing violence and chaos, and schools have been shut because of this and the COVID-19 pandemic. Salesians are opening their schools to enable youth to get back to their education, which they have been without for two years. Classes focus on English, computers and math.

SPAIN

Students from the Salesian Don Bosco Center in Logroño, Spain, worked to bring technology to a rural village, which has no electricity grid and little mobile network coverage.

First-year students at the Salesian Don Bosco Center in Logroño, Spain, recently participated in the #HackRural training project focusing on digital transformation of the rural village of San Martín de Jubera, which has no electricity grid and almost no mobile network coverage. The students are part of dual vocation training at the center and taking courses in administration of information systems in networks and development of multiplatform applications.

The project was organized by TICandBOT, a company created eight years ago by a teacher from the center. The goal is to teach students how to create a communication infrastructure, contracting the Starlink satellite internet service, at the old school in the village. Students also learned to develop applications as if they were in an office in an urban environment. The project combined rural entrepreneurship, new technologies and educational innovation.

More than 20 project activities were scheduled over four days and included the involvement of local information and communication technologies companies. In addition to developing the services, students had the opportunity to learn more about the community by taking part in beekeeping and milking workshops, as well as visiting the mines at Jubera.

One of the project teachers said, “These were unforgettable days of shared life between students, teachers and professionals without forgetting the typical good things in the area. We want to pay credit to all the students from our school who participated in the project for their attitude, proactivity and know-how which they developed and put into practice during these days.”

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Sources:

BOLIVIA: Students build skills with 14 new computers/Photo courtesy of Salesian Missions (contact for usage permissions)

INDIA: Science and technology camp held/Photo courtesy of Don Bosco South Asia

MYANMAR: Students learn with new laptops/Photo courtesy of Salesian Missions (contact for usage permissions)

SPAIN: Students work to bring technology to rural village/ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

Vatican – World Day of Peace 2024