NEW ROCHELLE, NY and KAREN, KENYA (June 8, 2012) – Salesian Missions staff members recently returned from a visit Kenya, where they toured Salesian-run youth education programs and assisted with the request for financial support for the Girls’ Education Challenge Project—a program funded by the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom. The visiting staff members, Denis Akankunda, international development associate of public health, and John Rio, grants accountant, are with the Salesian Missions Office for International Programs located at the nonprofit organization’s New Rochelle headquarters.
In Kenya, Akankunda and Rio visited the Don Bosco Youth Educational Services and the Don Bosco Boys Town in Karen—located in the outskirts of Nairobi. On their tour of Don Bosco Youth Education Services, Akankunda was most impressed by the school’s media center which included print and video production units which are used to promote youth-friendly programs that teach life skills.
At Don Bosco Boys Town, the two visited vocational training programs that teach tailoring, car engineering and mechanics, carpentry, electrical work and steel soldering. The tuition cost is highly subsidized, making the training affordable to the largely low-income student population in Kenya.
This technical school attracts youth that do not do well on national college entrance exams and provides them an alternative opportunity to acquire marketable skills. Upon graduation, students become entrepreneurs and move on to establish their own businesses in Nairobi. While Don Bosco Boys Town primarily educates boys, girls also attend and have access to the same programs.
“Most impressive was a young female student learning steel soldering alongside 30 male students,” Akankunda says, “I was full of admiration for this brave young Kenyan girl.”
If funded, the Girls’ Education Challenge Project would allow Salesian Missions to further promote education for girls in Kenya. With fewer girls represented in the education system compared to their male peers, the project would target girls ages 6 to 19 years old and support enrollment, active participation, performance, retention and completion within Kenyan primary schools.
“Salesian education is teaching vulnerable children life and technical skills, enabling them to make a living as adults,” Akankunda says. “The investment in technical schools and the commitment to girls’ education attests to Salesian Missions’ dedication to giving hope to the less privileged.”
Salesian Missions is the U.S. development arm of the international Salesians of Don Bosco—specializing in programs and services for at-risk youth in more than 130 countries. The Salesians are widely considered the world’s largest private provider of vocational and technical education.
For more information, go to www.SalesianMissions.org.