Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Educational opportunities expand

Salesian missionaries begin to build new Salesian Technical Secondary School

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been providing education and social development programs for poor youth and their families in Zimbabwe since 1995. Salesians started in the capital city of Harare and then began in 2001 in Hwange. Between the locations, there are two Salesian church parishes, a youth center, a secondary school and a technical school.

Salesian missionaries are working to grow their educational presence in the communities. During a recent trip to Hwange, Rector Major Ángel Fernández Artime blessed the foundation stone for a new Salesian Technical Secondary School. Students from the Don Bosco Secondary School attended the blessing and greeted the rector major with great joy.

The Don Bosco Secondary School opened in 2021 with 90 students for grade 8. Both boys and girls, mostly from poor mining families, are attending the school. The Don Bosco Technical School has a long history in the region and is growing with the help of 40 lay mission partners that assist with education, legal, financial, engineering and coordinating teams. In Harare, Salesians are also working to open a Salesian Youth Spirituality Animation Center within the complex of the main parish center.

“We congratulate Salesians in Zimbabwe for the addition of these schools,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Education is always our primary focus, and we are happy to know that youth in these communities are going to have a chance to learn skills for future employment. This will enable youth to give back to their family and community.”

According to the United Nations, poverty has reached unprecedented levels with more than 70 percent of Zimbabwean children in rural areas living in poverty. A report, compiled by UNICEF and the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, shows high levels of poverty in rural regions and more than half of children do not have enough to eat. Humanitarian organizations have warned that if nothing is done to address food security issues, child poverty will only grow.

The World Bank estimates that extreme poverty in Zimbabwe has risen from 29 percent in 2018 to 34 percent in 2019 and continued to rise into 2020 and 2021. The rise in poverty has been attributed to acute food shortages that are the result of the country’s current economic crisis and the effects of drought on agricultural productivity. Close to 5.5 million people in rural Zimbabwe face starvation.