Don Bosco graduates who do not immediately enter the workforce typically continue their studies at public universities in engineering or other technological fields. Others enroll in training programs run by multinational corporations such as Gaz de France. And each year a handful of graduates take advantage of their Italian diploma and their Italian language skills acquired at school and emigrate to Italy or elsewhere in Europe.
Don Riccio views emigration as an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the curriculum.
“Every year, maybe 10 or 15 of our graduates go abroad, but we try to discourage that because it is a loss for the country,” he said. “Most who go abroad never return.”
As a solution for graduates who feel torn between attending university in Egypt or emigrating, the institute in Cairo has launched an online degree program with the International Telematic University, Uninettuno, in Rome. Don Bosco graduates can take online courses in classrooms at the institute outfitted with ample desktop computers and video conferencing equipment.
While graduates enrolled in the online program have responded with enthusiasm, in the end it may not be enough to persuade them to remain in Egypt.
Remon Kamal, a bright-eyed, baby-faced 21-year-old, loves the online program. But while he wants to work and raise a family in Egypt, he says he still would consider emigrating if an opportunity to do so promised a better life.
“I really like it here and am very happy,” he said. “If I find a good job here in Egypt, then I will take it, but if not I will go to Italy.”
Both institutes also run large intensive continuing education programs in the evenings for adult professionals who want to brush up on old skills or learn new ones. The program in Cairo attracted more than 3,800 adults last year.
“The number of people taking our intensive vocational training courses keeps going up,” said Don Riccio.
“That means people have experienced some good benefits from the courses they have taken and are spreading the good word. If they weren’t, then after a few years people would stop coming to us.”
Two recent graduates, 19-year-olds Muhammad Mohy and Mustafa Fathy, attest to the outstanding reputation the institute in Cairo enjoys. They graduated one year ago and both now work for Mobinil, one of Egypt’s two largest mobile phone service providers. During a recent visit with their favorite former teacher, Maged Arian, a soft-spoken man who teaches computer programming for industrial machines, the young men attributed their highly prized jobs to the quality education they received at Don Bosco.
“I’m happy I went to Don Bosco because it is like a good brand that people respect,” said Mr. Mohy, grinning broadly. “They know what it is, and when they find out that you studied here they treat you differently, like you know what you are talking about.
“The best thing about this school is that everyone here is putting all their hearts into it,” he continued.
A shy Mr. Fathy chimed in that the best thing about the school was that it taught him self-discipline.
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