Youth attending Don Bosco Oysterbay, located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, are able to access technical training in renewable energy thanks to a project that was launched two years ago in partnership with Misereor, a German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation, to help advance this training capacity.
Funding from the partnership with Misereor has equipped Don Bosco Oysterbay with tools, training materials and enough equipment to provide education to 120 students every year.
The program, which started in 2017, has been training vulnerable youth in technical skills that will help them become change makers in their communities as innovators, technicians and entrepreneurs. To prepare them for the workforce, trainees benefit from career guidance and entrepreneurship skills provided by Don Bosco’s Job Placement Office. The job placement office empowers youth to realize their full potential by connecting them with employers and entrepreneurship opportunities. In addition, trainees are able to access soft skills training to build their self-confidence and communication skills.
The first 35 trainees who completed the three-year electrical course at Don Bosco Oysterbay were enrolled in a six-month specialization course which consisted of both electronics and solar system training. The specialization course was designed to provide a technical foundation for solar technologies and reinforce classroom learning with hands-on demonstrations. The 35 trainees have graduated and already 70 percent of them have found work as solar technicians.
One of the graduates is 23-year-old Charles Urio who completed secondary school in 2013. At that time, he could not progress further in his studies because his grades were not good enough and his family didn’t have the money for private school. He resigned himself to work as a salesman in an electrical shop. There, he developed an interest in the work and even began accompanying technicians to help carry out installations. Soon he was learning the art of installation.
He applied to Don Bosco Oysterbay for the three-year electrical installation course. When he completed the course, Salesian missionaries offered to enroll him in a six-month course specializing in solar photovoltaic (PV) design, installation and maintenance. Urio says, “The fact that I was now furthering my education fully paid for by Don Bosco was a dream surpassed.”
The solar PV course provided him in-depth knowledge of installing solar and solar water pump equipment. He adds, “The solar course gave me an advantage in securing a job at Ensol Tanzania Company Ltd. Some of my electrical installation classmates are still out there looking for stable jobs. I am grateful to Don Bosco for moving me from zero to hero.”
Logolye Melita is another graduate of the Don Bosco Oysterbay solar PV course. The 23-year old completed secondary school in 2012 but was unable to proceed to high school because his grades were not good enough. He started a small business in his village in Arusha before moving to Dar es Salaam to take advantage of the more varied business opportunities there.
While in Dar es Salaam, he met one of his former classmates who introduced him to staff at Don Bosco Oysterbay. As his desire was to become an electrician, he immediately applied for admission to study electrical installation at Don Bosco Oysterbay. He began his coursework in 2015 and upon graduation, was selected to proceed to the six-month solar PV course.
“The solar course has enabled me to conquer life challenges, and I am able to solve people’s energy challenges. I am fulfilled when I install solar for people and improve their standard of living,” says Melita, who is now employed at ALFA, a company in Dar es Salaam.
In August 2018, with funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, this same training program was launched in Don Bosco training centers in Dodoma and Iringa. This has led to the establishment of training laboratories and the remodeling of the solar and electronic classes and workshops at the centers, as well as the installation of training equipment, furniture and the development and training of instructors on the new syllabus.
When fully established, the Don Bosco training centers in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, and Iringa will train a population of 300 students annually in installation, operation and maintenance of solar PV equipment. The centers will collaborate with solar energy companies and the government to provide apprenticeship opportunities for instructors and students.