The Don Bosco Educational System of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
PNG/SI, 12 October 2021 -- Ever since the establishment of the first Don Bosco School in Papua New Guinea 42 years ago and 25 years ago for Solomon Islands, Salesian Educators gathered together as one, for the first Don Bosco Educational System (DBES) Salesian Educators’ Congress for the Vice-Province. It was held at the Don Bosco Technological Institute, Boroko, from 23-25 September, 2021.
With 160 participants involved in almost 20 sessions throughout the three days (even though educators from SI could not join due to the pandemic), it looked as though the teachers themselves had become students attending remedial classes! Regardless, it was a time of personal reflection and group recapitulation of what a Salesian Educator is meant to be.
But what exactly is this Don Bosco Educational System?
Fr. Alex Garces SDB, in his presentation on the DBES at the Opening session on 23 September 2021, explained that the DBES is an association of secondary and tertiary schools and TVET centres administered and operated by the Salesians of Don Bosco in the territories of PNG and SI. It is envisioned to foster synergy among the DBES schools for a more effective and fruitful educative and evangelizing apostolate with the young.
Although traditionally known for providing technical training, Bosconians are also challenged to excel academically. Technically, the DBES acts as a guide for Don Bosco schools in PNG and SI in the formation of a young person’s skills and knowledge through the way the school is run. So you see, the DBES does not apply to the school, its teachers and the students alone, it is for all that are connected as partners in the operation of the school. It is a system that seeks to challenge, inspire, motivate and build a young person utilizing all his God-given gifts and talents.
Don Bosco believed that in every young person a point of goodness is accessible. Note that he believed in EVERY young person. He lived that out in Turin when he took in his first boys into the oratory in Valdocco.
Not sure who Don Bosco is too?
St. John Bosco (John Melchior Bosco), widely known as Don Bosco (Don is a traditional Italian appellation for priest) is the Patron Saint of Young People. He was an Italian Roman Catholic Priest who, in his time dedicated his whole life for the young, abandoned and poor boys.
These boys were no ordinary boys. They were street children without a home and did whatever they could to help them survive. That would also explain how Don Bosco had juveniles in his group. Most of the boys were stubborn, rowdy, aggressive and of course, very disobedient. Knowing that not even the law could change these boys, Don Bosco had to come up with something and that is how the Salesian System of Education, commonly known as the Preventive System of Don Bosco, was born!
The Preventive System of Don Bosco consists of 3 pillars: Reason, Religion and Rapport. “The Preventive system offers the student previous warning, in a way that the educator can still speak to him in the language of the heart, whether during the time of his education, or later. The educator, having won the loving respect of his protégé, will be able to greatly influence him, warn him, counsel him, and also correct him, even when he is employed…” (Educational Philosophy of Don Bosco - Don Bosco's Way, Style, Approach, Method, System, etc... of Educating and Accompanying Young People Today).
So as a modern day Don Bosco of PNG and SI, how do we achieve the same? It is quite simple to say, even though the execution may face a million challenges; as we follow the DBES to train our young people to use their skills and knowledge for the good of themselves and others, the Preventive System of Don Bosco provides the room for a young person to go beyond his restrictions in the classroom and workshop. He shows commitment, discipline and excellence in church, on the playground, at his workplace and in his home.
As Fr. Alex stood with pride before Salesian educators and read, “In Don Bosco schools we provide our students not only intellectual formation, but also physical, human, cultural, artistic, emotional, social, civic and spiritual formation. This is what St. John Bosco meant when he said that we must form our students to become good Christians and upright citizens,” we can now safely say that by aligning the two systems we can produce a fully mature and developed young person in all aspects of his life.
The Salesians of Don Bosco are present in 134 countries, with over 13,000 Salesians who run 3,299 preschool and basic education centers; 252 tertiary institutions and 752 technical training centers (excluding other thousands of education centers run by the members of the Salesian family; from the Statistics presented in the 28th General Chapter of the Salesians in 2020).
The following are the Salesian schools in PNG and SI: Don Bosco Araimiri Secondary School, Gulf Province, 1980; Don Bosco Technical School Gabutu, NCD, 1981; Don Bosco Technical Secondary School, Kokopo ENB, 1985; Don Bosco Simbu Technical College, Simbu Province, 1994; Don Bosco Technological Institute, East Boroko NCD, 1999; Don Bosco Technical Institute, Henderson and 2004: Don Bosco Rural Technical Centre, Tetere both in SoIomon Islands. Sister schools: Caritas Technical Secondary School and Business College of the Caritas Sisters of the Sacred Heart and the Mary Help of Christians Technical Institute.