India: Innovative Education Program Helps Youth Thrive

Publication Date: 
February 22, 2012

In a country where more than 94% of children ages 6-13 have never been to school, non-traditional education offers students the chance for a better life. Salesians in Manipur are working hard to bridge the social and economic gaps that have historically stood in the way of educational opportunity.

Bosco Mangaal — a program originally begun by the Salesians in 2002 — brings basic education to the doorsteps of the poorest of the poor. By working closely with Mangaal’s village elders, women and youth groups, the Salesians are reaching children whose families otherwise could not send them to school. The program’s goal is to prepare them for admission into regular classrooms.

“These children are far behind their peers, but they are eager and have a lot of promise,” says Radhani, a villager and teacher at Bosco Mangaal who herself participated in the project’s teacher training program. “This at-home ‘leapfrog’ course helps them catch up.”

Recent educational reforms now grant every child in India the right to attend school, regardless of caste, gender or economic status. This makes the “leapfrog” program even more effective, meaning its participants are far more likely to join a traditional classroom when they’re ready (generally by the fourth or fifth grade).

Older youth also have opportunities to learn — either at Bosco Mangaal or at one of 17 other Salesian centers throughout India. With an emphasis on vocational and skills training and one-on-one coaching, these centers prepare graduates to earn a living in trades including auto mechanics, welding, desktop publishing, information technology, office administration and retail sales.

Through these and other innovative educational programs in 130+ countries around the globe, the Salesians are helping children and youth break the cycle of poverty and build more productive communities and lives.

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