NEW ROCHELLE, NY & KEP CITY, CAMBODIA (Aug. 26, 2014) More than 2,000 students in three Salesian-run schools in Cambodia have better access to technical education thanks to a recent book donation coordinated by Salesian Missions. The schools serve vulnerable youth and focus on ending the cycle of poverty through education and workforce development opportunities. Through primary, secondary and technical schools, Salesian missionaries throughout Cambodia focus their efforts on helping poor youth obtain an education and later, the job skills necessary for stable employment.
The three recipients of the book donation, Don Bosco Technical School Kep, Don Bosco Technical School Phnom Penh and Don Bosco Poipet Center, plan to utilize the new books in classrooms as additional resources to their current technical education materials. The book donation will also provide teachers another educational supplement for their lessons.
“A new book in the hands of a student opens him or her up to the opportunities that are available through education,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco headquartered in New Rochelle, NY. “While this is true whether it takes place down the street or across the globe, it is especially powerful in places like Cambodia.”
Cambodia has a long history of violence that has resulted in a quarter of Cambodians living in poverty and surviving on less than $1 per day, according to the World Bank. About 80 percent of the country’s population resides in rural areas and has limited access to education, healthcare and other public services.
Today, close to a quarter of Cambodians over the age of 15 are illiterate. With very little access to education, poor youth find it especially challenging to break the cycle of poverty. To provide youth with greater opportunity, Salesians in the country operate 45 schools in poor, rural villages through a partnership between Salesian Missions and the Ministry of Education. In addition, Salesians operate seven vocational training centers that impart much needed job skills.
The book donation was comprised of more than 80 boxes of books covering a variety of subjects including business, science and computer programming. All the books have been made available in the classrooms and school libraries at the three technical institutions.
One of the recipients, Don Bosco Technical School Kep, specializes in technical education for disadvantaged youth from poor communities in the provinces of Kep, Kompot and Takaew (a region particularly disadvantaged when it comes to access to professional education). In order to best meet the needs of the youth it serves, Don Bosco Kep is constantly expanding its services.
In October 2011, technical education began at the school in social communication and journalism as well as front office management, housekeeping and tailoring. In October 2012, the electrical department opened and information technology and language classes began. A year later, the school expanded again to include coursework in culinary arts, agriculture, food and beverage, art communication and office administration.
Another recipient, the Don Bosco Poipet Center, provides education to poor youth from the Banteay Meanchey province and the Western region of Cambodia. The center focuses on services for homeless youth and orphans, child victims of human trafficking, child workers and other at-risk youth. Youth are provided access to residential services, vocational and technical training and a youth center that provides additional services focused on literacy, reintegration for homeless youth and a sports program that helps youth develop positive social interactions with their peers.
“Salesian technical education students have the incredible potential to continue their studies and become leaders in Cambodia and later work to make sure that education can be available and accessible to all,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Not only is education about learning to read and write, it’s the foundation for a career and a secure livelihood.”
World Bank – Cambodia