boy working in machine

What does "vocational education" mean?

Vocational education is a term we use to refer to practical training that teaches our children technical skills for employment. Good technical skills give children the best chance of securing reliable jobs and so the Sisters of Mary programmes offer a range of technical classes for every child, in addition to their academic subjects.

The Sisters ensure that everything they teach is relevant and useful for immediate employment locally. They work closely with local employers to ensure the syllabus is kept up to date and ensure that the children are using the right technology to learn modern skills and gain practical experience for local roles and functions.

Every child has the opportunity to use their practical training by doing work experience with local employers (we call it on the job training (OJT)- or work immersion) in their final year of school. This OJT, gives them insight into the industries available to them and the experience they need to enter the working world once they finish school.

Children from our school go into roles in a vast array of sectors including medicine, technology, retail, hospitality, research and science, finance and manufacturing.

Group of girls learning electrical skills

Approach to education to best equip children

Having both practical and academic skills gives children the best possible chance of recruitment after school.

Some children choose to use their technical training to pursue a career or start their own business in a specific industry, like Jony.

Some children use the technical training as an entrance into the working world and then support themselves whilst continuing their studies to establish themselves in a career of their choosing. Ross, from the Philippines, used her technical training in sewing and tailoring to help support herself while she studied further. She is now in logistics management.

Student learning to use a sewing machine
Philippines - Adlas - sewing

What kinds of vocational education do the programmes offer?

Each country of operation has a range of vocational education classes. Many courses are the same, though in particular countries, certain industries and companies provide specific employment opportunities with specific skillsets and training needed. For example, in the Philippines, there are many car manufacturers and so the children there learn skills like machining and automotive engineering to give them the skills needed to enter that industry.

All of the technical training is accredited by the education authorities of each government and every child leaves with certified qualifications to help them into employment after school.

Vocational training is continually evolving to support good recruitment but examples of the current training offered by our programmes are: bread and pastry making, electrical engineering, solar panel installation, sewing and tailoring, cooking, welding, machining, tool making, 3D design, technical drawing, engineering, automotive repair, jewellery making, mechatronics, computer hardware servicing, carpentry, dentistry, nursing.

Girls in white coats with a dummy
Girls in Brasilia in their nursing training 2023

A future in nursing

Throughout the schools, courses in caregiving and nursing have been introduced for both boys and girls.

There are many jobs in the local regions for nurses. It is a highly sought after role and our children are learning the practical and theoretical skills needed to become dedicated nurses, able to provide vital care for members of their community.

During their nursing training at school the children also spend a period of time working in the local region under supervision and utilising their practical nursing skills – taking blood pressure readings or delivering vaccinations. Like all of our final year students who do on the job training (OJT), this gives them vital experience and readies them for future training and final jobs on hospital wards or in communities.

Many of our children develop lasting and fulfilling careers in nursing, serving the public and offering care and support for those in need and many go on to develop their careers in medicine, some becoming doctors and senior health professionals.

Student answering a question on the whiteboard in front of her classmates

Vocational training centre in Tanzania

In Tanzania, the Sisters saw a desperate need for support for out of school young women trapped in poverty. Many of these women are young mothers or have never been able to finish their secondary school. And so a training centre for these ladies was piloted in 2018 for just 20 ladies to learn sewing. The success of this, with employment and enterprises gained and created by the ladies, has given birth to the Kiluvya Training Centre which opened officially in 2022, with the first 100 women completing their course in mid 2022.

The training centre provides six month, VETA accredited training courses in: bread and pastry making, electrical and solar panel installation, sewing and tailoring, cooking and business administration courses to ladies aged 17-21. It equips the ladies for employment but also to set up their own enterprises in order to support their families.

In addition to this, the Training Centre has a nursery attached to it so that young mothers can have somewhere safe for their children to receive an early education whilst they train or work.

This centre provides invaluable technical education for women like Shamin.