(MissionNewswire) Students attending the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Juba, South Sudan, have received scholarships to help afford their education and continue their studies thanks to funding from Salesian Missions donors. The scholarships, which are mainly focused on female students, cover 50 percent of the school’s tuition, making it much easier for young women to gain an education.
One student, Ayany Pamela, said, “This program has given me the courage to return to school after completing my secondary education. I had not been able to continue in school because of financial problems. After noticing that women were given this opportunity, I became much motivated because it is now affordable for me. This program has contributed much in my personal life by allowing me to obtain knowledge and skills. Without it, I cannot imagine how I would have continued my education or found a good job.”
John Garry, a teacher at the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center, noted that the center and education provided have played a role in transforming the lives of youth in many says. He said, “One of the good things I have seen since I joined the center in 2015 is the 50 percent school fees discount/scholarships offered to female students. This has encouraged more young women to gain an education. It has also encouraged families, who typically don’t value education for girls, to send their daughters to school.”
In South Sudan, due to lack of financial support, many families force their girls into early marriages. The program’s goal is to reduce the incidence of early marriage and allow young women to gain an education and independence in the workplace.
Garry added, “As a citizen of the country, I see a lot of improvements as more girls gain an education. There are numbers of girls joining technical fields such as general electricity, auto mechanic and computer IT, which has not always been the case in South Sudan. Without any doubt, very soon our girls will compete with men in the development of the country in such fields. Don Bosco and our benefactors have given hope to many parents with very limited financial income.”
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 but has faced an ongoing civil war that started in December 2013 and has resulted in a dire humanitarian crisis even before the coronavirus pandemic. Responding to the civil strife is nothing new to Salesian missionaries in South Sudan, who are dedicated to the programs and services they are providing across the country.
Salesian missionaries provide education, social development services, nutrition programs and health clinics for poor youth and their families. For some, the education offered at Salesian schools is the only opportunity to gain an education and the skills necessary for future employment.
South Sudan is expansive and largely rural with 83 percent of the population residing in rural areas. Poverty is endemic with at least 80 percent of the population defined as income-poor and living on the equivalent of less than $1 per day, according to the World Bank. More than one-third of the population lacks secure access to food.