Annual Activities Report 2019

Letter from the president

Dear Friends,

I wish to start this letter with the sad loss that has marked us this year: the passing away of Piero Martinotti, on November 1, 2019, due to health reasons. The Foundation is very grateful to Piero for his great contribution as Board Member since the launch of the Foundation. For me Piero was also a very good friend and a long time colleague in our previous professional lives in the semiconductor business during some four decades. Piero was a man of great generosity in giving for free his time and knowledge to help the needy (he also served in another non profit organisation, Centro Italiano Aiuti all’Infanzia), of inflexible moral integrity and transparency, and of strong dedication in pursuing his objectives of social responsibility. The Foundation and I personally will always be grateful to him for his many contributions and for the lesson of his life.

In 2019, we continued to support our programs in Thailand, Cambodia, Morocco and Burkina Faso, but we also started new activities to assist underprivileged children in Sicily, Italy. At the moment of writing this Annual Report, the world is facing the most dramatic sanitary crisis of any time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And once more, the poorest children in any part of the world are the most vulnerable and worst hit.

We believe that today there are 3 major non military challenges confronting humanity:

  1. The enormous and growing economic inequality gap between poor and rich individuals;
  2. The excessive population growth in less developed countries, particularly in Africa;
  3. “Global warming” and the associated environmental disasters (such as desertification, wild fires, melting of glaciers, etc…).

Education, starting with children, and women’s emancipation, are the tools to fight peacefully those challenges, otherwise they risk to evolve in unpredictable social disruption and violence. To give its modest contribution, the Pistorio Foundation will shift its priority focus to Africa and also to some particularly underserved and vulnerable areas in some developed countries, such as in Italy, which has seen a significant rise in migrant populations in the past decade. We realise that our contribution is like a drop in an ocean of needs, but every drop can help to fill the ocean, and the example can be contagious. We thank those who have continued to help further our mission offering financial support, advice, time and skills, and those who will join us moving forwards.

Sincerely,

Pasquale Pistorio

 

Our Dream, Mission, and Approach

The Pistorio Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Vimercate, Italy, founded in December 2005 by  Pasquale Pistorio, former CEO and President of STMicroelectronics (1980-2004).

Our dream is a world fit for children, that respects every child’s rights as stated in the “UN Convention on the Rights of the Child” (https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention/convention-text).

Our mission is to contribute to this dream by improving the living conditions of children in need, with a focus on education, by providing long-term scholarships and building and improving school infrastructures.

As reflected in our motto “On the way to school, on the way to life”, we believe that education is key to provide life changing opportunities for children from disadvantaged communities and backgrounds.  We are also aware that to succeed in school, children need to be in good health, and that children in extreme poverty are often not able to access basic health care.

Hence, our approach is to provide underprivileged children holistic long-term scholarships that ensure not only access to quality education but also to basic health care and basic nutrition, throughout their entire schooling until technical or higher education.  We improve school infrastructures so that all schools are equipped with kitchens and canteens to prepare fresh and nutritious meals to students. All school buildings also have sanitation facilities so that their lack is not a deterrent for children to attend school, and children are also taught basic hygiene skills by trained staff.

We are convinced that free access to education and health are not only birthrights of children, but also the foundations of thriving societies.  Free primary and secondary school education for all children and youth by 2030 is one of the targets of the Fourth UNDP Goal: to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”  The Goal also includes targets for gender equality in access to education at all levels, access to vocational and higher education, and elimination of all discrimination.

Yet the amount of out of school children today is still staggering: according to UNESCO, in 2018 there were still 258 million children and youth out of school, of which 59 million of primary school age, and nearly 200 million of secondary school age.  This is unacceptable, considering also that as the UNDP claims, education remains one of the most power fool tools for sustainable development.

As we have witnessed also throughout our work in the past fourteen years, children who are able to complete their high school and professional school education and obtain a job, can lift their families of origin and future generations out of poverty.  When all the children in a given village are able to attend school, the entire community benefits and is empowered.

The Foundation also supports projects that help create more resilient and self sufficient communities, through income generation activities and raising awareness on health and human rights issues.  Such efforts better equip parents and guardians to accompany their children towards a brighter future.  Our projects aim to involve key stakeholders including teachers, parents, community members, and local administrations we work with, to be participants in improving the school environment and overseeing and fostering the progress of our beneficiaries.

We also believe that it is not sufficient for children to learn how to read and write, or be proficient in IT skills and knowledge.  To be able to qualify for meaningful jobs and fair wages, children must be accompanied in their school journey from primary school to professional school.  Along the way, we monitor our beneficiaries’ progress to minimise drop out rate and evaluate key indicators that help in measuring and quantifying the impact and success of programs.  It is very important that beneficiaries be able to achieve a Professional School or University degree to be able to find employment subsequently.  This is our ultimate goal, to empower children accompanying them from precarious living conditions to a secure job and qualifications through education.

Over the years, we have come to realise that in developing countries, it is also necessary to help improve the quality of education that is often insufficient.  This entails giving more resources to teachers, through training programs and supply of tools such as IT skills.  It also involves providing students with opportunities to become self-learners, to independently expand their knowledge and skills through the use of libraries and participation in after school activities. We have invested in library projects and seen how they can positively influence learning aptitudes,  while at the same time providing a safe and enriching alternative to life on the streets in underprivileged neighbourhoods.

Over the past year, the Foundation has also shifted its geographic focus from Asia to Africa, and has begun a partnership with Mission Bambini to support a project in the degraded neighbourhood of Librino in Catania, in southern Italy.  We have teamed with CIAI to pursue our project in Thailand and have continued our interventions in Burkina Faso, Morocco, and Cambodia.

We strive to keep our overhead costs to a minimum: we partner with carefully selected local NGOs on the field that meet our criteria and guidelines, and work with volunteers to keep central administration staff at a minimum, so that all available resources directly fund humanitarian projects on the field.

Our core values and governance

Our core values are integrity, transparency, and efficiency in our work and operations, so that our available resources can have the greatest impact for our beneficiaries.  Our overhead costs are and have been over the past 14 years, entirely covered by the initial capital of the Foundation. Every dollar received from our donors has been devolved directly to our projects on location.  We work with the help of volunteers both at our headquarters and on field missions.

The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors, headed by the President and Founder.  The Director of Operations is in charge of running the organisation.  In 2019 the Foundation hired an assistant to the Director.  Board of Directors and contributors such as graphic designer and website publisher, photographers, project auditors, and Country Managers, offer their skills and services on a volunteer basis.  Country Managers oversee projects in the field with local partners and assist in reporting of updates and progress of programs and beneficiaries. They also maintain relations with local institutions and government bodies. Volunteers also assist in field missions, documenting projects, creating online content, and in fundraising activities.

Organisational chart of Pistorio Foundation

 

2019 in Brief

Impact

  • 594 students on scholarship
  • 42 students completed Professional School
  • 3671 children directly benefitting from scholarship and infrastructure support

2019 Projects Investments: 163,498 Euro

Impact since 2005

  • over 4000 students have received scholarship support
  • 605 students have completed twelve years of schooling including professional or vocational school

 

Intervention areas

Thailand


Context and challenges

In the past two decades, Thailand has experienced remarkable development, making it today the 2nd largest economy by GDP in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. With a relatively well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand is highly dependent on international trade, with exports accounting for about two thirds of GDP. Thailand’s exports include electronics, agricultural commodities, automobiles and parts, and processed foods. The industry and service sectors produce about 90% of GDP. The agricultural sector, comprised mostly of small-scale farms, contributes to only 10% of GDP but employs about one third of the labor force. Thailand has attracted an estimated 3.0-4.5 million migrant workers, mostly from neighbouring countries.

Although poverty in the country has significantly decreased, thanks also to sustained economic growth over the years, economic and social progress has not benefited all layers of society.   The wealth gap has widened and poor communities still lack access to basic services, particularly amongst ethnic minority groups and immigrants from neighbouring Myanmar and Laos. Universal access to education and health care still remains a challenge, especially for children from remote rural areas, ethnic minorities and stateless people. [1]

According to UNICEF, 6.7% of children under the age of 5 are underweight and 1 in 10 children in Thailand is moderately or severely stunted, with the highest percentage of stunting (16%) reported for children in households headed by a non-Thai speaker.  Although 95% of primary-school age children in the country attend school, 14% of secondary-school age children are not enrolled in school, primarily from disadvantaged communities and migrants. 40% of non-Thai children of primary school entry age are not enrolled in grade 1 and 34% of secondary school age are not attending secondary school. Amongst the non-Thai and ethnic minorities, due to the costs of education and lack of school facilities in rural areas, boys are more likely to be enrolled in school, whereas girls are further discriminated and left behind.

Another major challenge is the nationwide low quality of education, with Thailand ranking poorly on international assessments.

Cultural challenges with regards the use of violence in households as a form of discipline also persist, concerning over 75% of children aged 1-14 years.  Violent discipline methods are inversely associated with household income, parent or gardian education level.  Early marriage is widespread, with 14% of women aged 15-19 currently married (UNICEF).

[1] According to the Education for migrant children Report from ILO – International Labour Organization- Sept 2014  http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do;jsessionid=DGLJZWzc6vTB7LkFpPK4L1h3FlvpSGtxpDFmKJytkZfZMJYQTJtM!-797203918?type=document&id=25735

Chiang Rai Village Project

Since 2006, the Pistorio Foundation has provided long-term scholarships to over 3,300 underprivileged children from remote hill tribe villages. Over the years, the Foundation has built more than 38 school infrastructures, including primary, and secondary school buildings, dormitories, kitchens and canteens, sanitation facilities, playgrounds, and primary health care units in tens of hill-tribe villages in Northern Thailand. In every village we partner with, we extend scholarships to children covering supply of uniforms and shoes, meals in school, teacher compensations and training where necessary, transport to school, and school materials, from nursery to professional school and university.  We also ensure that every child receives at least one nutritious meal in school and access to basic health care and basic hygiene skills instruction. In several villages we have also improved access to safe drinking water and promoted income generating projects for communities.

In November 2016, the Pistorio Foundation signed an agreement with CIAI (Centro Italiano Aiuti all’Infanzia), which already operates in South East Asia through its branch in Cambodia, with the aim to join efforts and combine complementary synergies in Thailand to expand the reach of the project to new villages and strengthen the cooperation between existing schools and communities. CIAI is currently registering in Thailand which will allow us to merge our operations locally. The Foundation’s intention is to formally hand-over the running of the Thailand project to CIAI as of 2021, in order to focus its resources on the african continent and migrant populations in southern Italy.

In 2019, we supported 529 students from nursery level to university in 17 schools across Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Lamphun Provinces.  The following are some of the initiatives that have complemented the scholarship program throughout the year.

Girl and Boy Scout Training Participation of students in extra curricular activities such as boys and girls scouts and youth camps are encouraged and facilitated as they foster life skills learning, equipping children to better manage everyday interactions with their peers, family, and community.  Such social skills will help them to better integrate with society in their future.

Dental hygiene campaign Elementary school beneficiaries received classes and training on oral hygiene and dental care by a representative of a local health centre partner.

Reproductive Health Campaign This year, Pistorio Foundation Thailand launched a Reproductive Health Campaign for our Vocational School and University students.  The campaign helped raise awareness on issues that represent a growing concern amongst older adolescents and yet are still a cultural taboo, particularly in rural areas.  Knowledge on reproductive health helps empower women, as well as men, to make responsible choices that will increase their chances of safeguarding their health and hence also their chances of completing successfully their education, so as to look forward to a brighter future.

Bilingual Education Program  In order to best prepare ethnic minority children for Thai public school, we have consolidated the roll-out the bilingual programme in hill tribe village schools, teaching all subjects in two languages: Thai, as well as the native tongue of the hill tribe student.  In many hill-tribe villages, children are raised in families speaking only the ethnic dialect, such as Akha.  Hence, they are at a disadvantage when they enrol in primary school and often lag behind in the curriculum and end up repeating first grade to catch up their knowledge gap in thai language. To counter this, we have introduced the dual language program in village kindergartens and primary schools.  This method has proven to give the best results as students are able to learn Thai language more quickly and are better prepared to succeed in primary school and enrol in secondary school.

Obtaining Citizenship  One of the greatest challenges hill-tribe minorities have been facing for decades is widespread statelessness.  Without citizenship, they are denied basic rights such as travel, owning land, and access to health care.  Migrant families move to Thailand from neighbouring Laos and Myanmar in search of jobs and end up settling there.  Thousands of children born in Thailand attend schools in Thailand but they are not registered at birth and do not have legal papers.  Many of our beneficiaries that attend our village schools are without citizenship and hence the Foundation, in coordination with a local partner, ADRA (Adventist Development Relief Agency), experienced in regularisation of non-resident citizens, has launched a program to help our beneficiaries obtain citizenship.  Having citizenship will also make it much easier for them to find a job once they have completed their school cycle.

Some of our beneficiaries in various schools in the Province of Chiang Rai:

Theong College

Den Ha Municipality Secondary School

Secondary Wiang Pa Pao School 

Suai Vittayakom Secondary School

 

Primary school students pose with PE uniforms donated (above) and nursery and kindergarten beneficiaries receive blankets and school supplies donated by the Foundation (below)

In 2019, 29 of our students successfully obtained a vocational training or professional school degree in a wide variety of fields from accounting and marketing, to tourism and computer science from various Professional or Technical Schools including VBAC, Pa Sang Industrial and Community Education College, and Thoeng Industrial and Community Education College.  Many of these students have benefited from the Pistorio Foundation scholarship since primary school.  It is a great achievement to have completed their education coming from distant remote hill-tribe villages often lacking the most basic infrastructures and services.  These students have become role models for their communities.  Most of these students, once they find employment, contribute to the livelihood of their family of origin, supporting younger siblings, and help lift their communities out of poverty. Many of our graduates are now applying for jobs in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok, or returning to their home villages to contribute to the villages’ development.

Graduates from VBAC, Chiang Rai

Graduates from Pa Sang Educational College, LamPhun

From Our Beneficiaries

Ar Daw
Ar Daw’s parents are originally from Myanmar, and Ar Daw was born in Thailand.  She was able to pursue her studies and complete the vocational training school in Tourism at VBAC with the Pistorio Foundation scholarship, boarding at the facilities near the school.  Upon graduating, she was offered a job at a restaurant owned by an Akha hill-tribe lady who has herself previously been able to pursue her studies thanks to scholarship support.   The Foundation had obtained an internship for her at the restaurant, and subsequently she was offered a job by the restaurant. Ar Daw enjoys her job and has learned to cook and is also able to run the restaurant when the owner is absent. Ar Daw is grateful and appreciates the opportunity given, and of having been able to work at a job she enjoys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ar Meh
Ar Meh comes from a remote rural village in Chiang Rai province, two hours away from Chiang Rai city.  With a relatively large household of six, her father’s income as agricultural day worker is not sufficient to support the children’s education.  Ar Meh’s mother is chronically ill, and the family does not own land.  Neither of the parents have had an education, and the children are not registered at birth.  Upon completing secondary school near her village, Ar Meh was able to pursue her vocational school studies in Tourism in Chiang Rai with the Pistorio Foundation scholarship program, as her family was unable to support her financially.  At the same time, the Foundation is assisting Ar Meh through the complicated process of obtaining citizenship.  As per Thai tradition, being the eldest sibling, she is responsible for looking after and supporting her younger brothers and sisters. Studying and obtaining a job upon graduation is her greatest dream so that she can help support her family while doing a profession she enjoys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Results

Scholarship Program

  • 529 direct beneficiaries on scholarship from Kindergarten to University level of which 38 enrolled in professional schools and vocational training centres in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Lampang provinces, and 5 in University
  • 29 students successfully completed professional school

Outcomes since 2006:

  • 3317 direct beneficiaries on scholarship
  • 38 infrastructures projects: 3 Primary Schools, 3 Teacher Accommodations buildings, 1 Secondary School, 3 Kindergartens, 7 Dormitories, 3 Libraries, 3 Computer Rooms, 5 Preschools, 2 Playgrounds, 1 Arts and Music Classroom Building, 3 Canteens, 3 Clean Water Systems, and 1 Health Post.
  • 406 students have obtained a professional school diploma

 

 

Burkina Faso

Context and challenges

Since 2016, Burkina Faso has experienced an alarming rise in terrorist attacks, particularly in its northern and eastern regions close to the border with Mali and Niger, where it continues to mobilise resources to counter terrorist threats.   The country was the target of over 100 violent jihadist extremist attacks just in the first quarter of 2019.  In the past three years, growing insecurity has resulted in the displacement of nearly 500,000 people and the closure of more than 2,000 schools in these regions, depriving 300,000 students of  an education and impacting 11,000 teachers.   Terrorist attacks have led to unprecedented humanitarian crisis in a country already burdened by severe development challenges, particularly in health and education.

Burkina Faso ranks 182nd out of 189 countries in the United Nations human development index, placing the country in the low human development category.  According to the World Bank, 40.1% of the 20 million population live under the poverty line.  Despite economic growth of 6,8% in 2018, GDP per capita remains dismally low at 715 USD in 2018.  The landlocked country is scarce in natural resources and has a weak industrial base.  80% of its economy is based on agriculture, and the majority of the population is employed in subsistence farming.  Cotton and gold are Burkina Faso’s key exports – gold has accounted for about three-quarters of the country’s total export revenues.

A high population growth at 3% annually (also due to declining mortality rate combined with high fertility rate – women have on average almost 6 children), recurring drought, poor soil, pervasive and perennial food insecurity, and limited natural resources result in poor economic prospects for the country.  These factors, as well as the lack of adequate communications and other infrastructure (hospitals, schools, roads, housing) , further contribute to the economy’s vulnerability to external shocks.

Over 65% of the population is under the age of 25, which also means a predicted sustained high population growth in coming decades. 75% of the population is illiterate and unemployment is very high.  According to 2018 estimates, 1.5 million children are estimated at risk of food insecurity[1], and only 1/3 of children in need of emergency medical assistance receive appropriate therapies[2].

Despite progress in primary school enrolment rates over the years, going from 77,6 % in 2011 to 86,1% en 2016, child labor and exploitation, due to extreme poverty, is a humanitarian concern, with an estimated 43% of children aged 5-17 engaged in child labor and 83% aged 1-14 who have experienced some sort of physical or psychological aggression from caregivers.  The situation is even more delicate for girls, who are more vulnerable to violence and abuse. For them there is little consideration; they are often real “ghosts”; many are not even registered in the registry. Destined to get married and to become mothers very soon, they are not educated because parents consider the expenses for their education as a sort of “waste”; they are convinced that educating male children is the only investment that pays off in the long run.

Challenges in education include the high cost of education for families, particularly high school which is 50 USD per year, the equivalent of a month’s salary for many households.  Another major obstacle in education is lack of infrastructures, crowded classrooms, and low quality standards of teaching.  The country is still lagging far behind in education targets, with only 58% youth literacy rate, 52% attendance rate of primary school age children, 18% in lower secondary school and 5% in upper secondary school.

Pistorio Foundations presence in the country

Pistorio Foundation operates in one of the poorest rural areas of Burkina Faso, where poverty concerns 51.7% of the population.  Since 2006, in partnership with Centro Italiano Aiuto all’Infanzia (CIAI), the Foundation has supported hundreds of children’s scholarships and built a primary school and secondary school for over 700 students in the region of,  Boulkiemdé. Scholarships cover tuition costs, uniforms, books and stationery, hygiene education, and basic health care. Since May 2019, the Foundation signed an agreement with CIAI for a new project: “Girls in Bloom”, which aims to prevent child exploitation in rural villages of Burkina Faso and targets primarily girls who more often than boys are left behind and excluded from an education as they are forced to help their families or marry young and have children.

Project partners are the Burkinabè Ministry of Education and local village authorities.  The Pistorio Foundation  supports scholarships of children in the Nangbila school.  The scholarship covers school fees and materials which families are unable to afford; running of the school canteen; basic health care including annual check-ups and partial coverage of medical expenses; teacher training to improve teaching content and techniques; awareness raising amongst the community on the risks of child labor and the importance of education to prevent exploitation.  Many children walk several kilometres every day to reach school, and having a meal in school is crucial for their health and helps motivate them and their families to send their child to school. In some cases, that is the only meal they have all day.  Many children on scholarship live with relatives as parents often migrate to neighbouring countries like Ivory Coast in search of jobs.  Most families live in basic huts lacking running water, electricity and toilets.  Agricultural workers struggle to live from their harvest often barely sufficient even for themselves. Without support, children are unable to attend school.

[2] https://www.globalhungerindex.org/case-studies/2018-burkina-faso.html and https://borgenproject.org/addressing-hunger-in-burkina-faso/

[3] World Food Program https://www.wfp.org/stories/10-things-know-about-hunger-burkina-faso

Primary School Child

Cooks at school canteen

From Our Beneficiaries

Alphonse
My name is Alphonse and I attend the secondary school in Sabou. The scholarship program is a great thing because it helps students get an education and almost every aspect of our lives are taken care of by the scholarship – financially, nutrition, clothing, education.  The program really helps children in need.  This support has changed my life through schooling, clothing, and nutrition. I am very happy to have an opportunity to go to school. I am learning many things that my parents have not had a chance to know because they were not able to attend school. I have learned to read and write and learn foreign languages such as French and English.  I want to become a doctor because I want to help my brothers and sisters.”

 

 

Roukieta
My name is Roukierty and Im in grade one at Niangbila school.  I am good in school because I ranked 10th out of 70 students.  I am happy to go to school because we receive school supplies and a lunch meal every day at school. Im very lucky to go to school because now I can read and write and learn things that my parents dont know.  I want to become a teacher when I grow up.

 

 

 

 

2019 Results

Scholarship Program

  • 20 students on scholarship, 17 in primary school, 3 in secondary school
  • pass rate: 95%
  • retention rate: 95%

Outcomes since 2006:

  • Beneficiaries since start of program: 150
  • Infrastructure projects: Nibagdo Primary School expansion including school classrooms, kitchen, canteen, sanitation facilities, for 150 students; Sogpelce’ Secondary School, including Classrooms, Sanitation Facilities, School Water and Electric Systems, Library, and Computer Room, for over 700 students.

 

Cambodia

 

Context and challenges

Cambodia has experienced strong economic growth in the past two decades: GDP grew at an average annual rate of over 8% between 2000 and 2010 and about 7% since 2011.  The tourism, garment, construction and real estate, and agriculture sectors accounted for most of growth,  though mining for bauxite, gold, iron and gems is also currently attracting investors.

Still, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia, and long term economic development is hindered by systemic corruption, limited human resources, high income inequality, and poor job prospects.  According to the Asian Development Bank, 12.9% of the population lives below the national poverty line, down from 47.8% in 2007, yet 4.5 million still live in near poverty and are hence particularly vulnerable to economic and external shocks.  The country relies heavily on textile exports, which were 68% of total exports in 2017, but this dependence represents a weakness for the economy.

The World Bank in 2016 formally reclassified Cambodia from low-income to a lower middle-income country as a result of continued rapid economic growth over the past several years.  The upgrade however reduces its eligibility for foreign assistance and has led the government to seek new sources of financing from bilateral and multilateral donors, including the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and IMF, to address the country’s pressing needs.  More than 20% of the government budget came from donor assistance in 2018. With more than 50% of the population under 25 years of age, a major challenge for the economy will be to create enough jobs to handle the demographic imbalance.  A major challenge to development is that the majority of the population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the more impoverished countryside, which also lacks basic infrastructure economy.

Health and quality education remain major challenges for sustainable development. More than 260,000 of Cambodia’s 16 million people are trapped in modern slavery, often in farms, fisheries and construction, many of them children[4] : 13% of children aged 5-17 are engaged in child labor (UNICEF).  Enrolment rates in primary school have improved significantly over the years, yet lower secondary completion rates are still low at 57% in 2017.  21% of Cambodia’s population do not have access to improved water, and 34% do not have access to improved sanitation (World Bank).

Pistorio Foundations presence in the country

Since 2006, the Pistorio Foundation has supported the education of hundreds of students in partnership with Pour Un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE), providing scholarships to street children and scavengers that have allowed them access to quality education, health care, and nutrition from nursery to professional school. The educational programs offered enable students to make up years of education lost: the “catch-up” school combines two years of schooling in one.  After their primary and secondary school studies, students complete professional school and are able to land reputable jobs and help lift their families out of poverty.

As quality of education is a major challenge in Cambodia, we were happy to support the modernisation and improvement of library facilities in PSE, to give even more tools and opportunities to students to enhance their learning during and outside of school. Since 2016 we have been supporting the development of library facilities at PSE campus schools and at PSE community centres in Phnom Penh which provide daycare for preschool children and afternoon activities for older students.  Increasing reading skills of children is known to increase their chances to succeed in school.  It also strengthens their proficiency in the mandatory languages Khmer and French, as well as English.  The Foundation has funded nearly half of the two year project aimed at improving the three main library facilities of the PSE campus (General Education Library, School of Business Library, Foundation Study Division Library) and a total of eight reading spaces in the dormitories on campus and in PSE community centres in Phnom Penh.  The project included the installation and set up of a new software to classify books; the reorganisation of all library books with a new classification system; training of twenty school teachers and staff and 5 librarians on the new system,; and purchase of 11 tablets and 2680 books, including textbooks and reading books.  Such tools will help students not only improve language and math skills but also support their studies in completing research projects and assignments and conducting independent learning.

Thanks to this overhaul, libraries have now become focal points of learning outside the classroom at PSE schools.  Libraries are sites of many student-led events such as book readings and reviews, presentations, poetry readings, theatre performances, and more.  Other important initiatives have been the campus wide reading campaigns engaging students of all grade levels. In addition, library staff run guided sessions for those with learning challenges which helps them keep up with class requirements. Teachers and librarians are also trained to promote reading and orient students both in reading selections as well as in uses of computers and tablets.  Another major impact that we had not taken into account but which has very much positively affected students is that the library is seen as place where they can relax, detached from the stress of schoolwork and from daily challenges they encounter living in extremely poor neighbourhoods, and where they can interact with other students. Beneficiaries have appreciated the importance of reading, not only for studying but also as a fun and relaxing activity.

Overall, the project has positively impacted 2977 children and youth from the ages of 3 to 21 from primary, secondary, and professional schools, as well as students staying at PSE dormitory facilities and local children who benefit from PSE community centres throughout Phnom Penh.  There are now 8000-10000 books in each of the three main libraries, and 500 books in the 8 reading rooms/spaces.

[4] https://news.trust.org/item/20190620152714-spixg/ U.S. sees Cambodia’s anti-trafficking efforts floundering by Matt Blomberg, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Thursday, 20 June 2019

Library staff training sessions

Library activities with primary school children

 

Reading time in School of Business Library

From Our Beneficiaries

Library Staff

Sivorn Ke at the Extra-Curricular Activity Program (ECAP) reading space: “We have received a lot of new books and that makes me very happy. Most books are now in khmer, and adapted to children. Now that I know how to use the PMB system, I find it very useful to classify books into different categories. Children now know exactly where to look if they want a special kind of book. I hope this will make them want to come more often to the reading corner after school!

Sochanti at the Foundation Schools library: I have asked both students and teachers what kind of books they wanted to make the right choices for their education, and now we have received more than 200 books in history, physics and even psychology. The new book management system PMB is much faster, a lot less typing is involved thanks to barcodes. Also, we have much more visibility on the history of students who borrow books and it is easier to guide them towards the books they need. It makes classifying a lot clearer!

Sreylin of School of Business:  “Located in the heart of the School of Business and the School of Media, the library is a central place for gathering for students and teachers. The library is a place where our students can do their homework, work in teams, practice their presentations or just enjoy  quiet time alone. It is a really beautiful space. We have a lot of books on different subjects such as marketing, accounting, history, english language but also white boards and computers which help students study in different ways. Our library is open from Monday to Saturday. Around 25 to 30 students come every day to work and participate in the activities of the library.  In the morning, students go to school but I keep the doors open for those who want to take a break between classes. In the afternoon, we have a new system called self-learning. We try to teach students how to work by themselves and to go further in their learning. During this time, they can use all the facilities and ask for help from a teacher. At the end of the day, if they have not finished their homework, they can take books home. But, of course, they have to return them. Self-learning is really important so they can do their homework in a nice environment which is not the case at home for most of them. Almost every week, students and teachers organise activities such as conferences, video club, presentations… We also have board games like chess. As the manager of the place, I strongly believe that the library should be a place to meet each other, to have fun and to decompress.’’

Students

‘’My name is Meylin. I am a student at the School of Business at PSE Institute. This is my first year as a student here. In my free time, I enjoy coming to the library to look for information, do my homework and be prepared for my classes. I like reading a lot about marketing since its my subject area. At the library, I know I can ask for help. Sometimes, we study with my classmates and we make sure everyone understood the lessons. ’’

‘’My name is Sok Hong Leng. I am a student in Administration and Accounting. I come to the library every day. I like reading books about things I don’t know. I have read a lot about the history of my country because I did not know a lot about it and I was very curious about my culture. I have learned so many things and I am really proud about it. I mostly come in the afternoon to practice self-learning and do my assignments. I started going to the library because they were showing movies there. I still come to watch them when I have time and I even convinced my friend to join me.‘’

 

2019 Results

 Beneficiaries of the Library Project

  • 2977 students from PSE campus and in PSE community centres in Phnom Penh
  • Services provided
    • software system implementation and reorganisation and classification of all library books
    • 11 tablets
    • 2600 Books
    • 20 school staff and 5 librarians training

Impact since 2006:

  • 91 students have completed professional school since 2009
  • Over 180 student scholarships
  • Direct Beneficiaries of Library Project – 2977 students

 

Morocco

Context and Challenges

Since 2017, the constitutional monarchy of Morocco has been classified as a “partially free hybrid regime” by the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index.  Morocco has capitalised on its proximity to Europe and relatively low labor costs to build a diversified, open market economy.  Its key industries are agriculture, tourism, aerospace, automotive, textiles and fashion.  The country has increased its investments in its ports, transports, and industrial infrastructure, to position itself as business hub and broker for Africa, exemplified by its new port and free exchange zone near Tangers.  Currently, Morocco is expanding its renewable energy capacity with the objective to achieve 50% of its installed electricity generation capacity by 2030 from renewable energies.

Despite economic growth, Morocco is still burdened by unemployment (9%), widespread poverty (19% of the population live with less than 4$ a day), child labor, gender inequality gaps in education, high rates of school drop outs, and illiteracy (25% of the adult population), particularly in rural areas. The disparity between rich and poor continues to be starkly visible within large cities and between urban and rural areas.

The World Economic Forum’s annual report for 2017/2018 ranked Morocco 120th out of 137 countries for quality of education system.  The major challenges are represented by outdated teaching methods and resources, lack of sufficient and adequate infrastructure, lack of teachers and of quality training, teacher absenteeism, and overcrowded classrooms, among others.  It has been found that Moroccan public schools still do not produce learners with strong critical thinking skills and that students attain painfully insufficient reading and writing skills.  Many schools with 700 or 800 students have only two or three toilets – this particularly affects girls which drop out due to poor infrastructure.[5]  Most schools lack fences, sports fields, libraries, internet connections, teaching materials, and multimedia rooms.

According to a recent World Bank report titled “Expectations and Aspirations: A new framework for education.”, Morocco and other MENA countries’ curricula rely heavily on rote learning, memorization, and repetition, and maintain an educational system that focuses on “passive learning” and perpetuates “violent discipline.”

11.5 million Moroccan children are faced with the hurdles of poverty, child marriage, illiteracy, and malnutrition, depriving them of a dignified and safe future. Young girls are more likely to be illiterate than boys, and children in rural areas are more exposed to illiteracy.  36.9% of children are engaged in the labor market in rural areas against 14.9% in urban cities, and 60% of all employed children are taking part in unsafe jobs.  The major sectors where children are exploited are agriculture in rural areas and handicraft activities in urban areas.[6]  According to UNICEF 91% of children experienced physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers and 14% of women aged 20-24 years were married or in union before age 18.

Back to School Project

The government’s Non-Formal Education Program (NFEP) is an indispensable instrument of school integration to tackle elevated school dropout rates amongst children and youth and to reduce illiteracy.
Since 2010 the Foundation has partnered with the Azrou Center for Community Development to roll out the NFEP in the Ifrane province to benefit underprivileged rural communities. The program targets school aged children between 9 and 17 years old who are out of school, and teaches all subjects of the national curriculum so that the children can “catch up” with their peers in public schools and can be reinserted either in the national academic system or in vocational schools for older students.  Our goal is to readmit beneficiaries in public schools after attending two to three years of the Non Formal Education program.

The Azrou Centre for Community Development is active since 2002, contributing to the empowerment of local underprivileged populations in the region of Ifrane, by providing socio-educational, professional and medical services to women and children. The Center offers adult literacy classes, foreign language classes, digital literacy, handicraft workshops, and runs medical and sustainable development awareness programs for the community (300 beneficiaries reached per year, mostly women).  The Centre accompanies women in finding funds, and through the different phases of creation of their small businesses. 12 women coops have been created and supported by the Center since 2016.  Empowering women and mothers in the community is key to sustainable development and not only will they be better equipped to overcome everyday challenges but they will also be better prepared to secure their children’s education and empower the next generation.

The launch of the Non Formal education Program for children in 2010 was possible thanks to the partnership between the Pistorio Foundation and Azrou Centre. In addition, the roll out of the national Non Formal Education Program at Azrou has been enhanced through the introduction of specialised training for teachers, and extracurricular activities (theatre, choir, sports) and educational field trips to engage, motivate, and retain students and build social and emotional skills.  We have also introduced civics classes as well as particularised coaching for children in need of counselling support.

After nearly ten years of solid success and government recognition of our program, in 2018 the Regional Academy of National Education and Central Directorate of Non-formal Education have asked Azrou Center to roll out the New Generation Second Chance School which targets older adolescents who have left college and have no formal training and delivers professional training classes and certification.  The Azrou Center implemented the New Generation program in 2018 benefitting 60 youth every year who attend classes in language and maths subjects as well as in pastry making, gardening, and hairdressing.  Another youth program option available of students is a one year certification in coding, graphic design, and commerce with an emphasis on  soft skills and entrepreneurship, for students who already hold a diploma of Technical Higher Institute.

In the school inside the Center, in accordance with the national guidelines, all the children also participate in workshops for the preparation of trades such as carpentry and tailoring. Every year, beneficiaries are identified based on various criteria including family income and socio economic background.  The  main language of instruction is Arabic, and students also study French, Mathematics, Science, Civic and Religious education.  The program uses textbooks and follows the curriculum outlined by the Ministry of National Education.  All our beneficiaries take part in the national examination to obtain certification for primary and secondary school levels. The Ministry visits twice a month the centre to evaluate trainers and the teaching quality and has consistently praised and commended the work of the school.

Below are photos of some of the activities throughout 2019: gardening and horticulture lessons,  theater performance, cultural field trip to Rabat, examinations, and regular subject classes.

[5] https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/01/263421/moroccan-schools-childrens-education-risk/

[6] https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2017/11/234420/illiteracy-child-marriage-labor-moroccan-children-hcp/

 

In 2013, the Pistorio Foundation built a two story building school facility complete of modern and functional classrooms, workshops, equipment for vocational training, canteen and kitchen, and sanitation facilities to host and run the NFE program.  Children have daily meals and snacks prepared by the kitchen staff.   The scholarship provides each child school materials, backpack, teachers and staff salaries, and running costs of the building.  The Azrou Center offers free general consultations and medical care for children, including medications if needed. This year, students have benefited from a campaign in dental care, in addition to awareness sessions on different topics (hygiene, drugs, AIDS, harassment, violence, etc.).

School and Program Staff regularly meet with family members of beneficiaries and monitor closely the progress of every student.  This enables them to address in a timely fashion any issues that may emerge and constitute a challenge for the child’s learning.  Our beneficiaries have flourished in this program and consider the school and peers a second family.  At the centre they find a very safe and nurturing environment that for many represents a contrast with what they have experienced in the past in the formal school system.  After two to three years of the program, students are either reinserted in the school system, or if they are old enough, they are enrolled in Vocational or Professional Schools.

From Our Beneficiaries

Kamal
“My name is Kamal and I dropped out of school two years ago. After that I was told about the Azrou Center and was admitted in the NFE program. Thanks to this program, I was able to continue my studies and also learned sewing skills. After one year I succeeded the primary exam and obtained the primary certificate. I then enrolled in Vocational School to study tailoring and Azrou Center paid for my registration fee.  The centre has changed my life as I can now pursue a career in tailoring. I want to thank the Azrou Center, the Pistorio Foundation, and my teachers for helping me to achieve my studies and be admitted to a vocational school.

 

Fatima
“My name is Fatima.  I was in the 6th level of primary class when I dropped out of school. After that, I came to the Azrou Center for Community Development and after one year at the centre I passed my primary school exam and I have now been admitted to former Sakher High School. Finally, I want to thank the Pistorio Foundation, the Azrou Center, and all the teachers and administration for  having made the completion of my primary years study and enrolment in secondary school possible, and for paying my registration fees and supplies in secondary school!

 

 

 

Mother of Faiza
“I want to thank all the teachers and the Center for everything they have done for my daughter. She was a good student in primary school, but because of my difficult work situation, she had to drop out of school to help me with household duties in that difficult time. I later found out about the Center and enrolled her.  Now her life has changed. I like the way that they teach my daughter and thanks to you she can continue her studying!

 

 

 

 

2019 Results

Scholarship Program

  • 45 students on scholarship, of which 30 also engaged in vocational training (electricity and tailoring)
  • 8 Students have been successfully readmitted to the public school system and 11 in vocational training
  • 13 students have obtained a diploma

Scholarship program indicators

  • Student teacher ratio: 15:1
  • National student teacher ratio: 35-40:1
  • Retention rate: 87%
  • Pass rate: 71%
  • Absentee rate of teachers: less than 5 days a year

Outcomes since 2010

  • 393 student scholarships
  • 108 students have completed professional school
  • one school facility built for the NFEP

 

Italy

Context and Challenges

Pistorio Foundation has transferred its headquarters to Italy from Switzerland a few years ago and embarked in a new project in Italy in 2019 as part of a strategy and intention to increase its focus on Africa and address the issues of migrant populations in Italy.

Italy has the third-highest number of foreign residents in the European Union with about 5.3 million foreign citizens legally residing in the country: nearly nine percent of its overall resident population.[7] At the same time, the country has been facing for years sluggish economic growth, mounting debt, and high rates of unemployment.  According to the latest data from the Cattolica University, about 2.2 million youth in Italy between the ages of 15 and 29 are unemployed and neither studying nor in training, representing nearly 25% of youths (1 youth out of four) – a much higher rate than the 14.2% in the rest of Europe.  These youth have little prospects for their future. Furthermore, unemployment increases particularly in the poorer regions of southern “Italy”. In an effort to contribute to improve this situation the Foundation has partnered with Mission Bambini in Catania, Sicily to help prevent school drop out and provide safe environments for growth and development outside of school.

Catania is the city in Sicily with the highest number of immigrants[8] and Librino is one of its most degraded neighbourhoods.  It is burdened by a total absence of social services and of urban spaces for recreation and meeting for youth and adults.  The disadvantaged context favours social marginalisation, dispersion, and erosion of social fabric. The interplay of crime and abusivism make it an area practically disconnected from the rest of the city.  The census population stands at 43,600 inhabitants against the more realistic one of 70,000, which do not appear in official estimates. The neighbourhood lacks essential services, social places, shops, greenery, public services, and is badly run down by visible acts of incivility and vandalism. It is like a ghetto, and inside there is a profound fracture of the social fabric, reflected both in the urban structure, and in the socio-economic connotation of its inhabitants: residents of dilapidated and anonymous public housing constructions (poor families, single parents, disabled, elderly, long-term unemployed, former convicts, all united by precarious everyday life and social marginalisation) and inhabitants of cooperative houses equipped with flower beds and barrier gates, where workers and public employees reside – social, cultural and human worlds that never never meet. The area counts very few commercial activities, but is ripe with recruitment in illegal work circuits. Librino is a young neighborhood where the Municipality’s juvenile crime rate is among the highest compared to the other city districts. Here most of the children grow up in conditions of serious marginality and joining illegal circuits often represents a natural option and an alternative to the fate of poverty. In recent years the sum of the problems that the neighborhood has seen accumulating at all levels – unemployment, daily harassment, the attractiveness of easy earnings even for children who have internalised imitation processes – has enabled the spread of mafia culture.

Pistorio Foundation support of Passport to the Future Project

The Pistorio Foundation has decided to side with Mission Bambini to provide support for the activities of the Talita Kum centre at the heart of the Librino district. “Talità Kum” is located next to a district site known for illegality and drug dealing, where a parallel illicit institutionalised world replaces the legal and official one, and is capable of guaranteeing security, opportunities for “careers”, the improvement of existential conditions, and even a sort of “alternative social welfare” promising protection and economic support to orphans, widows and families of those in prison. In this context, the values are reversed and legality is seen as disrupting a sub-system, which instead is perceived as the only chance of a livelihood.

The objective of the project is to offer extracurricular activities to marginalised and at-risk children and youth through professional support and reference figures: creating spaces of socialisation, sharing, and learning, that oppose the culture of mafia and of illegality, and promote healthy development of the person, both physical and mental, as well as spiritual. The Talita Kum centre  serves to fill a void left by the absence of local public interventions.  The goal is to create a culture of legality, harmony, and cultural diversity and educate by creating a network of services around children, young people and families in the Librino area, by building the capacity and resources of the multifunctional centre that offers consultancy and training.  The network created can help entire families by providing counselling in various areas from nutrition, to education, creativity, mental/physical well being, artistic expression (physical, musical, etc.), sustainability, and active citizenship.  The project will support educational activities in a safe space through the collaboration of a support network formed by professionals, educators and volunteers in collaboration with public and private entities.

The Foundation sustains educational staff of the center responsible for tutoring support, sports and recreational activities, intercultural exchanges and educational fueld trips for the children attending the center. The direct beneficiaries of the project are 100 children from 6 to 17 years old, including 15 foreigners, who attend primary and secondary schools of the area. These are children and young people living in severe social and cultural poverty. 90% have a parent who is imprisoned or absent. Indirect beneficiaries include families and local structures, such as schools, parishes and social services, which find a meeting place in the centre where they can collaborate to build the network of support, prevention and care for children for children at risk such as those with groups of immigrants (unaccompanied minors or adults) at the reception centers of other non-profit organisations or public social services in Catania.

Activities carried out at the Talita Kum centre from Monday to Friday in the afternoon include school study and homework tutoring; educational and psycho-pedagogical therapist support of children to prevent drop out; periodic meetings with schools staff, social services and children’s families; and monitoring and supervision of academic and developmental progress of each child.

Thanks to the project, there has been an overall reduction of aggressive and deviant attitudes (monitored every six months by psychological tests) amongst beneficiaries; improvement of school participation; development of a healthy civic sense and active participation (monitored through periodic reports and meetings with school staff of the children); improvement in the management of emotions and conflict resolution; better integration and collaboration in the peer groups and versus adult authority (monitored through periodic evaluation forms drawn up by the specialists and professionals involved).

 

 

[7] https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/19852/italy-has-third-largest-migrant-population-in-europe-report

[8]  https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/20443/caritas-catania-top-province-for-immigrants-in-sicily

2019 Results

Impact

  • 100 direct beneficiaries

Outcomes

  • voluntary participation 3 days a week on average for each minor
  • 80% of children improved socialization skills
  • 80% of children improved practical skills
  • 25 new networks of families activated
  • 4 territorial entities that welcome immigrants were involved

Emergency Relief for the Tell Tamir Hospital in Rojava

In 2019 the Pistorio Foundation provided emergency relief aid to the Tell Tamir Hospital in Rojava, donating 5000 USD for medical assistance to the victims of the recent insurgence of violence in northern Syria following the incursion of Turkish troops in Kurdistan in the fall. The protracted war in Syria already counting over 380,000 victims, and has now reached new levels of horror since the withdrawal of US troops.  The war in Syria is one of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our century.  Our donation was made through the NGO Kurdish Red Moon which operates on the front line of the conflict, providing humanitarian aid and medical support to families, civilians and victims of the war.

 

 

Foundation Board Members
Pasquale Pistorio President
Piero Martinotti Board Member
Giacomo del Grande Treasurer and Board Member
Elena Pistorio Board member
Carmelo Pistorio Board Member
Carmelo Papa Board Member
   
Lucia Coletti Director of Operations
Choon Ky Suppoort to the Director of Operations
Country Managers
Nalinthiya Navathitikul Thailand
Piero Martinotti Burkina Faso
Mohamed Lasry Morocco
Elena Pistorio Cambodia
Pro Bono Contributors
Mario Orlandi Graphic Designer – Website Publisher

Contacts

Pistorio Foundation
Via Bice Cremagnani 15/7
20871Vimercate (Milano),Italy
Email: contact@pistoriofoundation.org