"Exhibiting You" - Story

School of Arts and Trades in the Greater Buenos Aires

By: Escuela de Artes y Oficios Rene Favaloro
Other authors: Asociación Vecinos de Montmartre
Submitted: 10/15/2010

The School of Arts and Trades in Greater Buenos Aires offers vocational training for those in Buenos Aires who are undereducated and unemployed, including targets that specifically target women. The center is located in a poor neighborhood outside of Buenos Aires, where basic needs frequently go unmet and many people are jobless.

Our goal is to offer vocational training that is short in duration, so that students can rapidly enter the productive market. Our vision is to create excellent centers that integrate at-risk youth and adults in the job market. Our mission is to give our students marketable skills that take into account social justice and equity.

All this is done through the efforts of community members and merchants in the area, who offer whatever help they can. The school isn't aided by state funding, so we are only able to exist on the generosity and optimism of our volunteers, students, and local funders.

A group of residents in the area saw the need to respond to the vulnerability of a population that are being underserved and do not have the chance to join the labor market. Since the school is located in a very poor area, many of the people there want to learn a trade to work their way out of poverty and marginalization. Residents who work in various trades volunteer to train the students. By offering the students a classroom and a chance to learn a marketable job skill, we hope to give them the opportunity to emerge successfully from a situation of poverty and neglect.

We offer courses that are specifically for women in traditional and nontraditional fields-everything from cooking and sewing to English language training and computer literacy classes. The goal is that women will be able to find paid work outside of the home. All of our courses devote the majority of class time to practice, rather than theory. For example, in Cooking Class the instructor brings all the ingredients for a particular recipe, and the recipe is created in the class while the instructor teaches the students how to use the different pieces of kitchen equipment. We also offer other community resources, including lectures that cover topics including health, pregnancy, and early childcare.

In the past two years since the recent global economic crisis, enrollment and attendance have increased substantially. Since the school opened in 2004, we have trained hundreds of students in marketable skills and helped them find work, and more than 1100 women. Of these students, roughly 40 percent have gone on to find long-term paid work. Despite the current economic difficulties, we are confident that continuing to provide vocational training to a marginalized community will not only help people on an individual level, but will bolster and help heal the national economy, too.

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