Yerling Serrano receives his diploma from UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer Wanda Obando. ©UNICEF Nicaragua-2015/M. García Terán
5 de October de 2015

Bluefields.- A total of 27 adolescents in vulnerable situations from El Bluff and Bluefields—including eight girls, most of them mothers, and 19 boys—successfully completed the second two-month Vocational Course on Building and Plumbing with a Climate-Change Focus. The course is part of a strategy in which adolescents outside of the school system and in a situation of risk are empowered and technically trained to help them generate income for themselves and their families.


“At UNICEF we advocate investing in education, health and nutrition, not only in early childhood, but also in the children’s second decade, during their adolescence,” explained Wanda Obando, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), during the course’s closing ceremony. She added that there is “a pressing need to stop seeing adolescents as future adults or the next generation as their moment is now and we have to invest in them so that they can be the generators of change.”


The course is being promoted by the Regional Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Directorate (DRASH) of the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regional Government and the National Technological Institute (INATEC), with technical and financial support from UNICEF.


Adolescents with new perspectives


These vocational training courses, which concentrate on the area of water and sanitation with a climate-change focus, also include the development of social competencies and life skills with the aim of the adolescent participants increasing their capacity to express their feelings, needs and opinions, allowing them to achieve personal wellbeing and interact successfully with their environment, which are the first steps towards positive social integration.


“I liked the course a lot. There were more boys than girls, but we learned together; we worked as a group and were able to do things better,” recalled 16-year-old Sashina Chamorro, the mother of a six-month-old baby girl called Britsha. Sashina stressed that it is good to learn new things and that “I think I can teach other people what I’ve learned.”


“I learned a lot of things, from the theoretical part to doing budgets and knowing how to tell if the water in a well is drinkable or not,” stated 18-year-old Yerling Serrano, speaking in the name of all the students who took this vocational course. “At the start of the course I didn’t know anything at all and I think I’ve learned now.” He also thanked the DRASH, INATEC and UNICEF for training the group of adolescents that completed the course and their families for all of the support they provided over the two-month training period.


During the course, the adolescents carried out the following works as part of a teaching process that employed the “learning-by-doing” methodology: wells with a rope pump, latrines, water flush toilets and the installation of wash basins, among others.


“It’s satisfying,” said Yerling’s father, Concepción Duarte Salazar, during the ceremony, talking in the name of all the families of the adolescents who successfully completed the course as part of a strategy that also takes into account the participants’ family environment. “They’re all finishing today because they’re all good, they’re all useful and important for society. Thank you to the organizations and the educators that implemented this course to train our young people.”


A course is being planned for Laguna de Perlas


“This is an INATEC-accredited work training course and as a result of these courses, some of these adolescents have formed their own microbusinesses,” commented Inés Hernández, director of the DRASH, who also mentioned that it is being planned to replicate the course in the municipality of Laguna de Perlas in the coming months.


Approximately 735,645.08 córdobas (over US$ 26,500) were invested in holding the second course. As a result of this strategy, developed since 2013 in the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region and since 2014 in the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, a total of 58 adolescents have been trained in the municipality of Puerto Cabezas (25 girls and 33 boys) and 66 in Bluefields (20 girls and 46 boys), with an overall investment of approximately US$ 178,000.


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Olga Moraga, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Nicaragua omoraga@unicef.org.