Salesians in Dominican Republic carry out renewable energy projects to help youth employment and to protect the environment
Salesians from the St John Bosco Province, the AntilleS (ANT), through the Salesian Don Bosco Foundation, the Youth Ministry School Sector and the Environment Unit, have launched a renewable energy project with which they will equip seven polytechnic institutes in the Dominican Republic with solar panels. Three immediate benefits will therefore be achieved with this initiative: the production of clean energy for the development of technical and vocational education, the protection of the environment, and the growth of access to the labour market for young people trained in this sector.
The project approved by the Salesians is called: “Vocational qualification of vulnerable young people in the field of renewable energy and environmental awareness” and will last until the end of 2025; it will be developed in the provinces of Barahona, Santiago, La Vega and Santo Domingo and foresees a financial investment of 872.000 euro, a figure that will be co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Don Bosco Mundo NGO and ANT Province, in coordination with the Directorate of Vocational Technical Education of the Ministry of Education.
For this very reason, the Technical Baccalaureate in Renewable Energies started this year at the Don Bosco Polytechnic Institute in Santiago and the Cristo Rey Polytechnic Institute in Barahona, since only one technical school in the entire country offers this type of training, while there is a high demand for qualified technicians in this technology from businesses. Similarly, in the seven schools where the project was launched, training in the installation and maintenance of solar panels will be offered, in coordination with INFOTEP (the Dominican Republic's National Institute for Technical and Professional Training).
In line with Pope Francis’ invitation in Laudato Si' and Laudate Deum, and together with guidelines from the Salesian Congregation, Sustainable Development goals, with the indications of various international organisations and the National Development Strategy - all of which express the need to take urgent action to protect the environment - the Salesians in ANT feel deeply challenged to try to make a direct impact for the benefit of Creation. And one of their answers is precisely this project, which involves the installation of 580 solar panel modules, which will produce 295.8 kilowatts; this is equivalent to avoiding the emission of 274,906 kg of CO2 per year - a service equal to the 46,218 trees that would be needed to convert CO2 into oxygen. In addition, the project will be completed with a whole series of other environmental awareness-raising activities for young people and others, to foster a more balanced relationship with nature and the environment.
This new project by the Salesians in ANT was presented on 9 November 2023 at the Industrial Polytechnic Institute of Santiago (IPIDBOSCO) led by the Provincial of ANT, Fr José Pastor Ramírez Fernández, and the Head of the Directorate of Technical and Professional Education (DETP) of the Ministry of Education, Dr Rafael Bienvenido Mercedes. The event was attended by students, entrepreneurs, teachers, directors of educational centres, Salesians of Don Bosco, professionals from various sectors related to technology, educational authorities from Santiago, representatives from the Ministry of Labour, universities and personalities interested in the development of technical and vocational education.