NEW ROCHELLE, NY (May 21, 2014) Thanks to a recent donation and coordination efforts of Salesian Missions, four schools in Uganda now have new textbooks. The schools serve vulnerable children and focus on ending the cycle of poverty through education and opportunities. Through primary, secondary and technical schools, Salesian missionaries in Uganda (and around the globe) focus their efforts on helping poor youth obtain an education and later, the job skills necessary for stable employment.
Don Bosco Children and Life Mission, St. Mary’s Secondary School, St. Joseph’s Primary School and Sacred Heart Sisters School will utilize the books for years to come.
“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. “While this is true whether it takes place down the street or across the globe, it is especially powerful in places like Uganda.”
More than 550 boxes of books were donated to the four schools, covering a variety of subjects including geography, science and music, and have been made available in the classrooms and school libraries at these primary and secondary institutions.
“The books bring a great value to our school and academic performance,” says BarshirSadick, a student at Don Bosco Children and Life Mission, one of the secondary schools that was a primary recipient of the donation. “Some of the books are quite colorful with drawings and images that the young students in the primary grades have also found fascinating and enjoyable.”
Don Bosco Children and Life Mission is located just outside of Kampala, the largest city and capital of Uganda, and provides services to more than 200 at-risk boys aged 8 to 17. The program offers primary, secondary and technical education along with sports programs, youth clubs, guidance counseling and life skills training. The donated books will aid the students in their academic pursuits.
As each boy at the mission grows and develops, he moves through different stages of the program until reaching the final goal of leading an independent, productive life.
“We have seen the devastating results of conflict on individual lives, families and countries but we are also seeing how people, especially poor youth in Uganda, are making enormous efforts to overcome everything that they’ve faced and build better lives for themselves,” adds Fr. Hyde.
Close to 67 percent of Ugandans are either poor or highly vulnerable to poverty, according to UNICEF. While the country has seen some economic growth as well as improvement in its Human Development Index ranking over the last 20 years, the country still ranks near the bottom at 161 out of 186 countries. After decades of war left many displaced, the people of Uganda face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country.
Approximately 86 percent of Uganda's 34 million inhabitants make their living farming but nearly 40 percent of Ugandans lack access to clean water for work and household use. Uganda’s literacy rate has improved with 73 percent of the population literate but only 23 percent of Ugandans go on to acquire a secondary education. According to UNICEF, one of the biggest challenges in the country is combating the serious increase of HIV/AIDS that has left millions of children orphaned.