Helvetas helps young people find a way out of unemployment and the temptations of the drug trade and youth gangs. The cornerstone of our strategy is to provide basic training for in-demand occupations at ordinary high schools and training centers.
Honduras has a bad reputation on account of its high homicide rate, drugs, corruption... and the Maras, youth gangs that have become a menace to society. But there is another side to Honduras: young people who, despite the high unemployment, resist the temptations and ill-gotten gains of a life of crime. With the support of parents, municipalities and communities that stand by them. Helvetas is working with this other Honduras on a project called Educar Plus (educar means “to educate”).
In rural Honduras, nearly one third of young adults between 18 and 30 years of age are neither in training nor gainfully employed. This situation prompts many youths to migrate to the city or abroad or to join a gang. This is why EDUCAR Plus specifically targets rural communities.
Our first project here was to develop two-year courses of study in agriculture and forestry at privately funded technical institutes which, rather like Fachhochschulen in Switzerland, provide advanced vocational training. We also convinced the government to recognize and subsidize these technical institutes, which made it possible to complete that project successfully.
Our new project is about approaches to vocational training that are integrated into secondary school education. 18 Honduran high schools have added vocational subjects to their curricula, which will lay the foundation for the subsequent careers of some of the 18-year-old high school graduates. Other students will draw from this secondary school program the entrepreneurial spirit and courage needed to start up a little business of their own. Helvetas advocates for the introduction of formal and informal vocational training throughout Honduras with the requisite backing from the authorities and the private sector.
The informal training includes two to three-month vocational courses for young people, made possible by EDUCAR Plus, in occupations that are particularly in demand in Honduras: electrician, motorcycle mechanic and hairdresser. The candidates for these courses are selected by the municipalities with input from the community, welfare services and graduates of other vocational schools, who are better than others at spotting young people at risk.
Every year, the project creates employment prospects for over 400 high school students, other teenagers and young adults. These future prospects are not only important to the young recipients themselves, they also contribute to making Honduras a more peaceful nation.
Rony Alexander Gòmez (17), a vocational school student, Honduras