West African Vocational Schools Programs
Guinea-Bissau is a Portuguese-speaking country, but English is the business language of West Africa. Those who are fluent in English are able to get better-paying jobs in the government and business sectors. WAVS started its English program in February 2011 and classes filled up immediately. The courses are designed to meet the needs of students by offering different five levels of English classes. (58 students)
Technology is revolutionizing Africa, but a lack of basic training has left a shortage of skilled workers who can do clerical work on computers, operate Internet cafes, or qualify for government jobs that require computer skills. Students at the computer basics course learn how to type and use Microsoft Office programs -- skills that will open the door to better-paying jobs. (40 students)
Women in Guinea-Bissau rarely get a chance to rest. They work from dawn to dusk to provide for their families, often scraping by with few resources. But those who are able to start their own business become financially independent, lessening the burden they face every day. For that reason, the WAVS school offers sewing classes for women who want to learn basic and advanced skills that translate into jobs. (45 students)
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Egas Gomes graduated from high school ready to work. But like so many other young people in Guinea-Bissau, he quickly discovered that the education he received wasn’t enough to get a job. So he enrolled in a computer-basics course with West African Vocational Schools.
Would it help?
High schools in Guinea-Bissau are chronically under-funded. Oftentimes, teachers are not paid for months on end. So they don’t show up. Students either drop out or graduate without any marketable skills. As a result, many young people join the ranks of the unemployed – searching desperately for a way to provide for their families. The international drug traders who have taken over their country offer tempting wages to work as drug runners, but young people know that such jobs come with risks. They’d rather make an honest living.
Gomes wanted something better. He took a five-month beginner-level computer course and a four-month advanced course from WAVS. He learned how to type, design spread sheets, use Microsoft Office, and browse the Internet.
Thanks to his training, Gomes was able to get a job at a computer shop where he works five days a week.
“Thank God for the school and for those who support it,” Gomes said. “Praise God because it’s very hard for young people to get work here. It’s only because of the school that I can work now.”