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Learning a profession in a practical way

Mountain lovers affirm that whether to tackle large business projects or to climb high peaks, the skills you need remain the same: staying calm, being focused and taking daily steps to reach small goals before facing big obstacles. This is the way that the Practical and Theoretical School for youth in Angola understands education.

Designed as though it was a three-year expedition to conquer Mount Everest, the school offers a groundbreaking secondary education program –still integrated in the Angolan education system- that allows the students to learn a profession in a very practical way.

One hike after another, the scholars climb their way up to the next level, becoming increasingly skilled and experienced. The program is organized in a way that, by the end of each hike, each student has reached new heights. “The mountain must be conquered by the individual, in close collaboration with the rest of the class and the teachers”, affirms one of the teachers.

During the first year, the students study diverse subjects and try out different professions: from learning how to cultivate vegetables in the school garden to practicing as Community Health Agents or Communication Assistant. From the second year, they specialize in the profession of their choice. Each of the professions corresponds to certain needs in most of the rural communities in Angola and the students learn all the knowledge and skills which are relevant for their future jobs.

“Firstly, when I heard about the course, it immediately caught my attention. I had always dreamed of following such a course”, says Brigida Henrique, one of the students: “During the months of training, I really enjoyed all the disciplines, but accounting is the one I liked most. I hope to finish my course with great success and to get an internship in a public or private company”.

Besides that, there are plenty of theoretical, practical, cultural, sporting and artistic skills and experiences built into the program. Even a survival trip, one of the highlights of the first year: they make their own food on a campfire, contemplate the sky at night and enjoy the comradeship with other students and with the locals.

Becoming active and productive citizens

With strong support of the Angolan Government, the program was started in 2011 by ADPP Angola and 416 people enrolled. “The students have studied alone, have worked in micro groups, have had courses with teachers and carried out researching within the community”, explains a member of the School Council in Luanda.

The Practical and Theoretical School goes in line with reaching the Millennium Development Goals established by the UN concerning education. “Creating jobs on its own is not going to stop youth unemployment. Young people still need the skills to do them,” states Pauline Rose, Director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report released by UNESCO.

Humana People to People sees education as both building knowledge and promoting citizenship: education is an integral part of community development, with schools and teachers playing a major role in rural communities. “Education has been a key area for ADPP Angola since the inception in 1986 and the focus is now very much on educating young people to become active and productive citizens”, says director of ADPP Angola, Rikke Viholm.