29 October Oct 2014 1812 29 October 2014

20 years of St Kizito, the value of a vocational school in the slum

4,000 students in 20 years, more than 90% found work immediately, 10 training courses. These are just some of the data of the vocational school of St. Kizito, born in '94 in Nairobi, Kenya, thanks to a project of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to help young people to enter the labour market.

"The school is an opportunity. It can really help to get out of poverty", said Father Valerio, founder and chief of the St. Kizito, to describe the value of the vocational school. St. Kizito was the answer to a request of Cardinal Otunga, who wanted to give young people of Kenya slums an opportunity to stay away from violence.
In 1994, three courses took place, with 60 students in total: the courses were mechanics, electrics and carpentry. From then on, the number of students and courses increased every year, including lessons for hairdresser, plumber, secretary and subjects like business, informatics.
Today, there are 120 students every year, 90% of them found a job right after the courses. Like Theresia, 30 years old, who now is a business woman in the electricity sector.
"I studied at the technical institute of St. Kizito until 2006 and I am now the owner of the company Terrytronic Satellites – Theresia said  – I was born in Kawangware, a slum in Nairobi, then my parents moved to Githurai, where now is St. Kizito. In 2005 I started a 2-year course in electrical installation, where I was the only girl in my class. I have always been a practical person, I used to enjoy assembling radios and electronical devices. I knew that I didn’t want to do any office work. At the beginning, my father wasn’t supporting me and I had to apply all by myself: he couldn’t understand how I could eventually be able to find a job. So I went alone to St. Kizito, introduced myself, did the interview and I was accepted. I did not have the money, but I was admitted anyway. The fee at St.Kizito is very low, thanks to the distance support program. That's why a lot of students like me could attend the courses. I was a very good student, I always had top grades”.
Today, my company is quite successful –  Theresia explained - Given my background, I am satisfied. And now my father is very proud of me. Of course for a woman is not easy, my co-workers are men and some of them were classmates at St. Kizito. At first they were skeptical but they learned to trust me. I am grateful to St Kizito, the workshops were really cool, with plenty of practical lessons”.
Thanks to its outstanding performances, St Kizito built several partnership with big companies, such as Italian Design Furniture, born in '95 as part of the carpentry course and now well known in Kenya in the design sector and still linked to the school.