The Don Bosco Technical Center was established in 1989 as a second chance for education for many poor youth who were at risk because they were excluded from formal education. Over the years, the center has become well-known throughout Samoa and the Pacific for its excellent technical training and focus on integral student development. Originally established as a school for young men ages 16-22, the center opened enrollment to girls, who have now completed their first semester.
The center provides both classroom and hands-on learning to ensure students are prepared for the workforce. In 2019, the center extended the duration of the work experience for students from two weeks to four weeks. This has already brought success. Four students who have been studying plumbing and sheet metal impressed the Samoan Water Authority with their know-how and dedication, and they were offered work immediately.
The importance of a work-study experience has been backed by a study conducted by the Samoan Qualification Authority, which also found that the Salesian technical school has the highest number of graduates that go on to be enrolled in the private sector. The center places an emphasis on building confidence, self-esteem and teamwork, as well as a love of culture through singing and dancing.
“Salesian missionaries in Samoa work directly with poor and disadvantaged youth to provide hope for a positive future through education and training as well as sporting, recreational and cultural activities,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries live in the communities they work which provides them the unique experience of understanding first-hand the hardships and challenges faced by residents. This allows missionaries to adapt and add new programs to meet local needs and develop skilled labor for the local economy.”
Samoa boasts one of the most stable and healthy economies in the Pacific region, according to the World Bank. Although Samoa has made impressive progress in social development, many rural communities in the country grapple with an unequal distribution of wealth and benefits. Poorer communities in remote parts of the islands are particularly vulnerable, especially in areas most likely to be affected by cyclones or other natural disasters. Gender inequality is apparent as women strive and often fail to find the same work and income opportunities as men. Youth find it increasingly difficult to find livable wage employment in the country.