The Don Bosco Technical Centre at Alafua (near the capital Apia), established more than 20 years ago, gives a second chance to students who are 'drop-outs' from the Samoan educational system.
The Technical Centre caters for young men, aged 17 to 23.
The Centre is staffed by Samoans with Fr Petelo Vito Pau, a graduate of Catholic Theological College in Melbourne, its Principal.
Initially set up for 150 students, the current enrolments are 270. Each year the number of applicants wishing to attend Don Bosco exceeds the places available. With additional facilities and equipment the Centre will be able to accept more students.
The students who come to Don Bosco have had unhappy educational experiences. The challenge for them is largely to learn 'how to learn' and to overcome the discouragement and fear of failure that dominated their previous schooling.
At Don Bosco they have the opportunity to acquire skills in trades, viz carpentry, cabinet making, metal work, welding, and automotive mechanics.
'Upon completion of their course, the overwhelming majority of the students secure jobs. And that is a significant achievement in a country with a very high rate of unemployment!' Fr Petelo said.
'Right now, in Samoa, with a good deal of building being undertaken - both dwellings and commercial enterprises - there is a greater demand for those skilled in the building trades, especially plumbers,' he added.
Fr Pelelo is very keen to widen the curriculum at Don Bosco and include the teaching of plumbing. Of course, additional facilities will be required.
To construct a new classroom and obtain the equipment to teach plumbing, outside support is needed and it can be forwarded via the Salesian Missions Office.
Donations (tax deductible) for the Don Bosco Technical Centre in Samoa can be sent to: Salesian Missions Office, PO Box 264, Ascot Vale, Vic 3032. (Confirmation: Br Michael Lynch, (03) 9386-6302).