UNICEF-supported Adolescent Skills Training Programme at the Dominican Social Centre gave David a second chance
31 year old, David Toussaint is looked up to by many young people in his community. Not only is he a Chef and tutor in English, Maths and woodwork for the teens in the Adolescent Skills Training Programme at the Dominican Social Centre but he is living his dream of being a mentor for young people in his community.
As a teenager, about to enter secondary school though, none of these dreams seemed in sight. For when David left primary school, he like a number of other Dominicans his age could not attend secondary school because there was no space in school for him. This was because Dominica unlike some of the other Eastern Caribbean countries did not have universal access to secondary education.
David’s life story changed however the moment he decided to become part of the UNICEF-supported Adolescent Skills Training programme at the Dominican Social Centre. This programme, originally developed to provide an opportunity for teen mothers who were forced to abandon the formal school system, because school officials did not embrace the idea of their return to school, now caters to any school drops–out or to those who are unable to attend school because there is no space for them. The aim of the programme is to give these children a second chance at life.
“I heard about the programme from friends who had been there,” said David, who is from Point Michel in Dominica. “They all had positive things to say so I decided to come, as I really wanted to continue my education,” he added.
When David joined the programme in 1990, it mainly offered technical skills, but today it offers students the chance to do high school courses and to complete their Junior Secondary Programme (JSP), a national exam which allows students a chance to go back to secondary school or go on to college.
The experience at the Social Centre has certainly been a positive one. For not only did it steer David in the direction of his career as Chef, but it has also boosted his self-esteem and self confidence.
“The programme at the Social Centre certainly improved my self esteem and because of it I felt encouraged to get involve in my community and to be a role model for others,” said David who graduated from the programme with passes in a number of academic subjects.
Director of the Social Center, Norma Cyrille, noted that the programme would not have been able to make the impact that it has on the lives of the children were it not for the support of the UNICEF Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. According to her “ with UNICEF’s financial support, we have been able to purchase materials for the students to work with both academically and technically, as most of the children who attend the centre are from poor families across Dominica.”