Annual Activities Report 2020

Letter from the president

Dear Friends,

In 2020 we continued to support our traditional programs, however putting more emphasis on the projects in Italy and Africa.  We believe that the COVID pandemic will be eliminated by the end of 2021 in developed countries thanks to massive vaccinations, although it will continue throughout 2022 in the poorest countries, particularly in Africa.  Europe should support Africa through the donation of at least 1 billion doses of existing vaccines and the liberalisation of patents (with some compensation for the owners), to allow massive production of the vaccines by other pharmaceutical companies.  With these efforts, the pandemic can be under control worldwide by the end of 2022.

Nonetheless, the socioeconomic impacts of the health crisis will have created hundreds of millions of new poor, also in developed countries.  In Italy, for example, the pandemic has already pushed 1 million more people into absolute poverty, reaching over 5 million individuals living in poverty in 2020! This is absurd and calls for urgent measures of redistribution of wealth via strongly progressive tax reforms and wealth and inheritance taxes.

We also believe that Europe should provide much more economic support to African countries, especially in the areas of infrastructure, education, and health care.  If Europe would allocate 100 Billion €, through contributions from each member State in proportion to their GDP, this would represent less than 1% of the EU’s GDP, but could have a real significant impact on the development of the African continent and go a long way to contrast the migration problem and its associated crimes and atrocities.  In the same way, the US should support Latin America, and China should support Asia. Finally, a moderate aid from the EU, US, and China to India could spearhead the latter rapidly into the group of developed countries.

Children are the future of humanity and of its evolution towards a more just world.   Educating today’s children is the best way to help them and the entire human society.

This is our mission, and even if we know that our efforts will always represent a drop in an ocean of needs, that drop is meaningful for those children we reach and for their communities.  We will continue to serve underprivileged children with love and dedication, working closely with our network of partners and volunteers, to whom goes our deepest gratitude.

In fifteen years since our founding, we are pleased to have been able to reach thousands of children in six countries, through the construction of dozens of school infrastructures and providing nearly twenty thousand school years through sponsorships from primary to professional school.  These sponsorships have ensured students continuous access to quality education, basic health care and basic nutrition, and ultimately helped lift their entire families out of poverty.

This past year, throughout the pandemic, the students we assist in all our projects have been able to follow their curriculum thanks to distance learning and their families have received extra food and basic necessities donations.  We have contributed in improving e-learning opportunities for our students and we will continue to invest in this direction as schools reopen, to further improve their learning outcomes.  We have also responded to COVID emergency requests for sanitation supplies and food aid to families in distress in Italy.

With your help we can reach more children in need and change their lives for the better!

 

Sincerely,

 

Pasquale Pistorio

Founder and President

 

 

 


About Us

The Pistorio Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Vimercate, Italy, founded in December 2005 by Pasquale Pistorio, former CEO and President (1980-2005) and Honorary President of STMicroelectronics.  Pasquale Pistorio was born in Agira, Italy, on January 6, 1936.  After his studies in Engineering at the Politecnico of Turin, Pasquale embarked in a successful career in the Semiconductor Industry, starting as a salesman, and becoming Corporate VP of Motorola. In 1980 he joined SGS as CEO and President, orchestrated the turn around of a near bankrupt Italian semiconductor company, and then led the merger with Thomson Semiconductors in 1987, bringing the company STMicroelectronics in the top five world wide by 2005 when he retired, and having multiplied the revenues of the company by a factor of nearly 100 (from 100 million of SGS in 1980 to nearly 9 billion of STMicroelctronics).  

Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility was always at the top of the company agenda while Pasquale was serving as CEO and President of ST: in 2001 he founded STMicroelectronics Foundation to help bridge the Digital Divide, and he was a leading pioneer and champion in sustainability, launching an environmental decalogue as early as in 1993 within the company.  Upon his retirement in 2005, Pasquale founded the Pistorio Foundation to share part of this retirement package to contribute to making the world a better place starting with children.  His letter from the Founder is a testimony of his commitment and philosophy: https://www.pistoriofoundation.org/from-the-founder/.  As he writes in his letter, “in the present world scenario, children deserve the maximum attention: on one side to protect them as they are the most vulnerable human beings; on the other to educate them because they will be the future citizens of the planet and ultimately, the continuous cultural evolution of humanity to build a better world depends on them.”  His philanthropic enterprise earned him the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award in 2012 and was recognised as Righteous amongst the Garden of the Righteous in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Italy in 2017.

For the past 15 years, the Foundation has been committed to supporting the education of thousands of children in need and contrasting school drop out.  We have built and funded dozens of schools, learning centres, libraries, kindergartens, and financed and provided thousands of long term scholarships and educational support for marginalised and poverty stricken communities in Thailand, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Morocco, and Italy.

As per our motto, “On the way to school, on the way to life”, our conviction is that education is not only a right, but it is key in empowering the lives of children in need and breaking their families’ intergenerational cycle of poverty and lifting entire communities out of precariousness.

Our Reach

  • 15 YEARS
  • 6 COUNTRIES
  • 19,138 SCHOOL YEARS SPONSORED
  • 637 STUDENTS HAVE OBTAINED A PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL DEGREE
  • 50 SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE & LIBRARY PROJECTS COMPLETED

 

Our Dream

Our dream is that every child have access to their inalienable rights as as stated in the “UN Convention on the Rights of the Child” (https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention/convention-text), including free access to quality education from preschool to higher education, to quality health care, and to a safe and nurturing home and environment.  We believe that a just world starts with guaranteeing equal opportunities to every child so that they may reach their highest potential regardless of gender, ethnic, religious, or socioeconomic background.

 

Our Mission

Our goal is to improve the living conditions of children in need, with a focus on education, by providing long-term scholarships, building and improving school infrastructures, and providing essential skills training and tailored programs for school drop outs so that they are not left behind and can be reinserted in the school system.

 

Our Approach

In the past fifteen years, we have been able to consolidate our initial holistic approach of embracing different aspects of a child’s well-being to favour success of every scholarship program, while we have incorporated new elements to our work.  All the scholarship programs we support or provide ensure that our beneficiaries have access to quality education and also to basic health care and nutrition, as optimal health is a prerequisite to succeed in school. All our beneficiaries on scholarship also receive medical check-ups, basic health care, and nutritious meals served in the school, and benefit from life skills training, health education, and career counselling programs that are not taught in schools and are especially important for children from underprivileged backgrounds who do not necessarily have the role models and guidance in their home environments to navigate ever more complex realities.

Our goal is to provide all children with the same opportunities as their peers around the world, supporting them from preschool all the way to professional school and/or university.  When necessary, we build and improve school infrastructures such as libraries, sanitation facilities, kitchens, canteens, and computer labs.  We want the poorest of the poor to have the same educational opportunities as all other children of the world. This also entails giving them the best chances to succeed by making sure they are in good health, well fed, and have access to all the necessary resources, soft skills training, and digital training to compete not only academically but also on the job market once they have completed their studies.

We closely monitor progress and impact of all projects through selected key indicators.  For our scholarship programs, we measure not only the number of students, each of whom are profiled individually, but also indicators such as pass rate to the next school level, retention rate in the program, teacher attendance rate, and student teacher ratio. We try to identify reasons for drop out from the program and address these issues with our local partners to better serve our beneficiaries.  We work with partners that have a strong proven track record, experience, and expertise, and who share our values and mission.  We have no political or religious affiliation.

Since 2016, the Foundation has been turning its attention especially towards Italy and Africa. Still today, more than 1.3 million minors in Italy live in absolute poverty, and 2 million in relative poverty. One in ten children are deprived of their right to learning in terms of cultural and educational opportunities and of their right to play and to benefit from optimal development free from worry and distress.  The Foundation headquarters was moved to Milan, Italy in 2015, and since then we have decided to increase our focus on addressing growing wealth inequalities, material and educational poverty in Italy, and building on our interventions in Africa.

 

What sets us apart

Until 2017, our overhead costs have been about 4% of our total budget.  Since then, we have begun to build capacity in Italy, however, efficiency and cost containment is a continuous pursuit of the Foundation. We have achieved minimum structure costs by working mostly with grassroots partners with proven experience and expertise, and with volunteers and thanks to minimum central staff and structural costs, so that over 90% of our yearly budget could go directly to projects on location benefiting children of underprivileged communities. In recent years, the Foundation has created a core staff structure, with a Director, an assistant, and a Project Manager, who work closely with local partners to implement and oversee projects. Nonetheless, every year since our founding, the Foundation capital has covered overhead and staff costs, so that 100% of every and any donation from our donors goes directly towards funding our projects. Our Board Members provide key roles (President, Treasurer, advisory) on a volunteer basis, and we have long time volunteer contributors involved with fundraising, graphics design, website publishing, photography, translations, and onsite missions.

 

Our Core Values

Fostering a culture of solidarity and volunteerism through example, involvement in our projects, and raising awareness on conditions of children worldwide.
Integrity and transparency in our operations with our stakeholders and donors, committed to being accountable for how every Euro is spent.
Efficiency by making every Euro stretch to the maximum and getting to where it is most needed.

 

Our Governance

The governing body of the Foundation is the Board of Directors, composed of five members, including our President and Founder, Pasquale Pistorio, and our Treasurer, Giacomo Del Grande.  The other Board Members are Elena Pistorio, Carmelo Pistorio, and Carmelo Papa. Board Members contribute time, guidance, and work on a volunteer basis to further the Foundation’s cause.  The President is the legal representative of the Foundation, and presides the Board, executes its mandates, and the powers assigned to him by the Board. The President and Board deliberate on the goals and strategic guidelines of the Foundation for the medium and long term, on the Balance Sheet and Budget, and allocation of funds to projects.

The Foundation has three Staff Members: a Director, an Assistant Director, and a Project Manager.

 

Our Challenge

One of the targets of the Fourth UN Development Programme Sustainable Development Goals is “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” yet 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.

Over the years, we have come to realise that in the countries where we operate, it is also necessary to help improve the quality of public education by providing resources and training to teachers and school staff.  In many contexts, education is outdated, favouring rote learning and not fostering independent thinking.  Where possible we impart students with life skills training, extracurricular activities, and tools and resources to expand their knowledge and skill sets and to develop autonomy and independence. Extra curricular activities also offer safe and enriching alternatives to life on the streets in run down neighbourhoods.

Despite progress in primary school education enrolment rates world wide, secondary school education is still far from UNDP Sustainable Development Goal targets for 2030, and devastating events such as jihadist attacks in countries like Burkina Faso, and the global pandemic, can set the clock back by decades for millions of children.  In fact, in recent years, according to UNICEF and International Labour Organization, “the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years – with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19”, reversing for the first time in two decades the downward trend we saw between the year 2000 and 2016.  9 million more children are at risk of being forced into child labor by 2022 due to the pandemic alone.  According to the World Bank estimates, the pandemic has pushed between 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty in 2020, and this figure is due to increase substantially in 2021.

We will continue to work to contribute as responsible citizens to alleviate the suffering and injustices of as many children as we can.  Our donor support is indispensable to be able to extend our reach to more children in need.  We will also continue to advocate for the protection of children’s rights and a more equitable distribution of wealth to decrease the tremendous wealth inequalities we face today.

 

2020 Impact

  • 126 students on scholarships
  • 25 students completed Professional School
  • 3671 direct beneficiaries

2020 Projects Investments: 69.860 Euros

 

 

Morocco – Back to School Project

Despite sustained economic growth in the past decades, Morocco is still burdened by unemployment, widespread poverty (nearly 19% of Morocco’s population lives on less than $4 a day)[1], child labor, gender inequality gaps in education, high school drop out rates, and illiteracy (25% of the adult population).  Stark inequalities between urban and rural areas persist: 75% of people living in poverty reside in the latter.   Domestic child labor still concerns 247,000 children, 90% of whom do not attend school.  Children are also involved in hazardous occupations in agriculture, fishing industry, and forestry in rural areas, and in construction and manufacturing in urban centres, often subject to abuse, exploitation, and severely underpaid (on average about 1/5 of the minimum wage).  Causes of child labor are poverty, poor quality education and a lack of access to education.[2]

[1] https://borgenproject.org/10-facts-about-poverty-in-morocco/

[2] https://borgenproject.org/child-labor-in-morocco/

Major challenges in the education system contribute to high drop out rates. The World Economic Forum ranks Morocco 120th out of 137 countries for quality of public education.  Amongst the greatest concerns are the outdated teaching methods and resources, lack of sufficient and adequate infrastructure and of libraries, teaching materials, internet connections, and lack of teachers and of quality training, teacher absenteeism, overcrowded classrooms, and violent disciplinary methods used in schools.

The Non-Formal Education Program (NFEP) was conceived by the government as part of an integrated vision of literacy, development and poverty reduction.  The NFEP objective is to tackle elevated school dropout rates amongst children and youth and to reduce illiteracy.

In 2010, the Pistorio Foundation and the Azrou Center for Community Development launched the NFEP in Azrou.  For the past ten years, we have enabled every year about 40 underprivileged out of school children from the Province of Ifrane, to attend the Program, reaching hundreds ofstudents to date.  The multi year accelerated program allows students to catch up on the public school curriculum, pass national exams and be reinserted in the school system. The program targets children between 9 and 17 years of age, selected through criteria including family income and socio economic background. All students also attend Vocational Training classes in wood carpeting, embroidery, tailoring, and electrician initiation.  This allows them to acquire skills that can help guide them towards a choice of future employment.  Thanks to these workshops, older students who cannot enrol in secondary school, can be admitted directly to state Professional Schools and thereafter join the workforce.  Our goal is to make sure that our students either enter public school or Professional School, and prevent that they go back to the streets where they are at risk of exploitation and abuse.  The ultimate objective is for them to attain an education and a degree that will allow them to secure a job to become self-sufficient and break free from poverty.

The Non Formal education Program at the Center provides not only core curriculum courses (Arabic, French, Mathematics, Science, Civic and Religious Education) and vocational training classes as part of the program, but also extracurricular activities that span from theatre, choir, and sports to educational field trips.  Our beneficiaries take part in the national examinations and the Ministry of Education conducts bimonthly visits to evaluate trainers, teaching quality, and oversee the program.  Year after year, our school and program have been commended by the Ministry for its high standards. Our sponsorship support covers costs of teaching staff, school staff, one meal per day, uniforms, school supplies, field trips and examinations.  The Azrou Center, which is a point of reference for the families and communities of Azrou, offers literacy classes, IT courses, handicraft workshops, income generating activities mentorship and support, and provides free health check ups and medical assistance to women and children, including our beneficiaries.

MADAME LACOMBE COMPUTER ROOM AND 2020 HIGHLIGHTS

Despite the Pandemic, the Center has been able to maintain ongoing activities both on location and in remote.  In 2020 the Foundation launched a computer classroom and donated tablets to our students.  This was made possible through the fundraising initiative in memory of late Madame Denise Lacombe, former Professor of French Language and Literature at the American School of Milan, to whom the classroom was dedicated.

During COVID, tablets and other electronic devices such as smartphones were used for distance learning so that teachers could stay in touch daily with students through video calls and online communication. In periods in which the school was open, strict measures of distancing, wearing of masks, use of hand sanitisers, and school rooms sanitation were implemented.  To reduce the distress of families and prevent children from abandoning the program, extra support was also given to parents of beneficiaries in the form of food vouchers and primary care supplies on a weekly basis during the lockdown.

The dedicated efforts of the educators and teaching staff to adapt to remote learning ensured continuity in learning for our students, and their efforts were rewarded by the positive end of year results.  Overall, 17 students successfully passed their certification exam, 6 students were readmitted to the formal school system, 6 joined Professional School, and 9 have started apprenticeship training at the Center.  Despite the difficult circumstances, only 8% of the students dropped out of the program and 75% passed to the next level.

In addition to distance learning, new course subjects were launched at the beginning of the school year: life skills classes in coaching and leadership, and outdoor sports games.  These novelties further enriched the learning experience of students and contributed to increasing their motivation. The individualised attention, dedication, and care shown to students by educators, as well as the wide palette of activities offered to stimulate our students, are important assets of the program, and also play a role in the high retention rate.  These conditions ensure that children are truly given a second chance to rebuild their confidence and self esteem, to return to formal education with the required preparation and skills to succeed, and never have to be on the streets again.

Computer Room Inauguration dedicated to Madame Denise Lacombe

 

 

From Our Beneficiaries


H.O.
“I am 18 years old and a native of the village Bensmim. Lack of willpower is among the reasons that I left formal school. After a three-year break, I came to the Azrou Centre and met people who supported and believed in me. I also discovered that schooling is important in a person’s life. I enrolled as part of the NFE program at level III.  During my apprenticeship, I benefited from extra-curricular activities and was able to pass the primary certification exam. This certificate allowed me to enrol in the vocational school at the Institute of Applied Technology in Azrou in the program of Wood and Aluminum Joinery. At present, my professional training is going well. I would like to thank the Centre’s administration, trainers and Pistorio Foundation who have supported us from the enrollment phase to our integration in public school.”

 


R.A.
“I used to study at the formal school EL KHANSSAE but I had no desire to continue the learning path and misunderstanding with teachers pushed me to leave school. Afterwards, my mother contacted the administration of the Azrou Centre for Community Development which accepted my enrollment for the 2019/2020 school year at level III. At the end of the year, I passed the primary certification exam which facilitated my professional insertion at the Specialized Institute of Applied Technology in Azrou in the field of Wood and Aluminum Joinery. I am very grateful to the Centre’s administration and the Pistorio Foundation for supporting us in achieving this much desired goal.”

 

 


D.M.
 grandfather of beneficiary

“I am a retired veterinary technician and my son and his family of six live with me. When my eldest grandchild reached school age, I did my best to enrol him in a public school in Azrou. Unfortunately, the school did not admit him.

Afterwards, some friends referred me to the Azrou Centre for Community Development. The Centre gave me support and enabled my 10-year-old grandchild to enrol in the NFE program at Level I for the 2019/2020 school year.  During his schooling he has gone through an extraordinary learning journey. I have noticed that access to the Centre has allowed him to be happy, fulfilled and brilliant thanks to the material and moral support of the school staff and administration. This enabled him to be inserted for the school year 2020/2021 in the formal school system at the 1st Hassan School where he is currently pursuing his studies with total joy.

This year, my granddaughter’s turn has come; she too is enrolled in the Azrou Centre in the NFE program at level I.  I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all those involved in this program for all they have done and for all they are still doing in terms of learning, school clothing and catering, to help support my children and save them from social distress. May God help all those involved for their generous humanitarian act!”

 

From Our Teachers


E. HARRI
“I am Mrs. Rachida EL HARRI, teacher and tutor of the student R.A. enrolled in the NFE program, who had left public school due to lack of motivation.  Since starting, his level of commitment and conduct have improved tremendously. The pupil who previously shunned formal schooling found himself here.  He has shown a strong willingness and motivation to learn and has become the first of his class. He obtained the best mark in the final certification examination. He has become punctual and determined, with an attitude towards positive change.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the staff of the Azrou Centre, the sponsors and all those who contributed in one way or another to the success of this program which has really saved so many marginalised children. What is also very important about this program is that it continues to accompany pupils even after they enter either the school system or vocational training.”

 

 

2020 Impact

Scholarship Program

  • 41 students on scholarship
  • 12 students have been successfully readmitted to the public school system and 9 in vocational training
  • 17 students have passed the certification exam

Scholarship program indicators

  • Student teacher ratio: 15:1 (national student teacher ratio: 40:1)
  • Retention rate: 92%
  • Pass rate: 75%

Impact since 2010

  • 434 school years provided
  • 1 school facility built for the NFEP complete of classrooms, workshop rooms, canteen, kitchen, and sanitation facilities
  • 115 students have completed professional school

 

Burkina Faso – Girl’s Education Support

Burkina Faso is amongst the poorest countries in the world, ranking 185 out of 188 in the UN Human Development Index.  Despite relative economic growth in recent years (5.7% in 2019), school and health care infrastructures are insufficient, and 40,7% percent of the population lives below the poverty line, while fertility rate is high, at 5.79 children per woman. Education is a priority due to population growth and the fact that 54% of the population is under 18 years of age. According to the World Bank, in 2015 youth literacy rate was at only 52.5%, gross primary school enrolment rate at 66%, and secondary gross enrolment rate at 33.7%.

Yet protection of minors is still a major issue: 41% of children aged 5-17 is engaged in child labor as agricultural or domestic workers, or in gold mines, primarily due to poverty (Enquete Nationale sur le Travail des Enfants).  The situation is even more difficult for girls who are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Destined to marry and birth children at a young age, education for girls is not a priority amongst families, who believe that educating boys is a better long-term investment.

To make matters worse, since 2017, the country has seen an escalation of jihadist violence targeting schools especially in northern Burkina. In March 2020, the Ministry of National Education reported that over 2,500 schools had closed due to attacks or insecurity in Burkina Faso, negatively affecting almost 350,000 students and over 11,200 teachers.  Although the villages and schools we work with have not been directly affected, such violence has reversed decades of progress in increasing school attendance in the country.

The onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, has all but exacerbated these conditions.  The attacks and the pandemic have reduced the quality of education students receive, put many students behind in their studies, and created a climate of fear and uncertainty amongst students, leading many to withdraw from schools, and having psychosocial consequences.

To contrast school abandonment and to improve especially girls’ enrolment rates in the country, the Foundation supports the project in partnership with CIAI of Girls in Bloom, focused on improving outcomes for girls’ education in rural western Burkina in the village and school of Niangbila.  The Foundation funds 20 scholarships in this program.

Scholarships include school kits, uniforms, meals in school, and medical check-ups.  School staff also receive tools and training to improve the quality of education. Income generation workshops and literacy classes are organised for parents of beneficiaries so they are better equipped to access micro financing schemes. Parents, teachers and students are trained in hygiene and sanitation. Meals in school, supplies, and medical check ups motivate parents to send their children to school.

During COVID, families of beneficiaries also received food donations, and students were given hand sanitisers and reusable masks. Schools closed at the onset of COVID, but reopened in October 2020.

 

 

PIERO MARTINOTTI BRIDGE CLASSROOM 

In 2020 the Foundation funded a Bridge Classroom in Ramongo village, in the province of Boulkièmdé, as part of a project to reinsert child workers between 9 and 12 years old in the school system.  Child workers can follow at the Bridge Classroom an intermediate program of study to cover the first three years of primary school in one year and subsequently be admitted to formal schooling.

Bridge Classroom in memory of late Founding Board Member Piero Martinotti

At the same time the project works with families to improve their income generating capabilities and raise awareness on the importance of education for their children. Overall 119 children will be benefiting from this program.

The Classroom funded by the Foundation was dedicated to the memory of Piero Martinotti, our dear historical Board Member.

The classroom opened in 2020 and has already had its first intake of students so that they may be enrolled in public school in September 2021.

 

 

From Our Beneficiaries


S.

“I am a student in second grade at the Primary School of Niangbila.

I scored 6.92/10 and am ranked 10th/75 students.  I am very happy for the sponsorship, as well as my parents.
We receive supplies and rice. I am happy to be able to attend school.  In the future I want to be a great teacher to help children learn to read and write.”

 

 

 

 

 

2020 Impact

Scholarship Program

  • 20 students on scholarship, 17 in primary school, 3 in secondary school
  • pass rate: 75%
  • retention rate: 75%
  • Infrastructure project: Bridge Classroom for 23 students
  • Total direct beneficiaries: 43 students

Impact since 2006

  • 934 school years
  • Infrastructure projects: 1. Nibagdo Primary School expansion including school classrooms, kitchen, canteen, sanitation facilities, for 150 students; 2. Sogpelce’ Secondary School, including Classrooms, Sanitation Facilities, School Water and Electric Systems, Library, and Computer Room, for over 700 students; 3. “Bridge Classroom” for out of school children

 

 

Thailand – New Hope Project

Despite remarkable economic growth in the past decades, the wealth gap has increased in Thailand, and progress has not benefitted the most marginalised communities, particularly in rural villages and communities of ethnic minorities and immigrants from Myanmar and Laos, who still lack access to basic services.

According to UNICEF, while primary education enrolments have recently reached 95%, 14% of secondary-school age children, mainly from disadvantaged communities and migrants, do not attend school.  In addition, amongst non-Thai children, 40% are not enrolled in grade 1 and 34% are not attending secondary school. Furthermore, gender discrimination is prevalent in access to education among 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 in distant locations while girls are more likely to be left behind at home.

Another challenge is the relatively low quality of public education, which is exacerbated in rural and mountainous areas. Thailand ranks poorly on international assessments and educational reforms to modernise and invest more in the public school system are necessary.

The Foundation has been operating in Thailand since 2006, a year after the Thai Government passed a legislation allowing non Thai citizens to access school.  The Foundation has focused its efforts on helping children from the marginalised mountainous hill tribe villages in Northern Thailand, in the provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, access education.  Over the years, we have sustained the long-term education of over 3,500 underprivileged children.  Our action has also involved creating and improving school infrastructures in remote villages and in rural areas.  We have completed more than 38 infrastructure projects including primary and secondary school buildings, dormitories, kitchens and canteens, sanitation facilities, playgrounds, and primary health care units in over a dozen hill-tribe villages in Northern Thailand.

Our long-term scholarships accompany children from preschool to professional school and/or university. The sponsorship includes all that the child needs to succeed in school, depending on the school level, from uniforms and shoes, to meals in school, teacher compensations and training where necessary, transport to school, and school supplies.  We also ensure that every child has access to basic health care and basic hygiene training.   Over the years, the government aid to hill-tribe minorities has increased, however many times this support does not apply to non Thai citizens and still the support does not cover all costs of education which fall upon parents of marginalised children, who most often cannot afford them. Careful not to overlap government aid, but rather complement it when it is needed, our sponsorship is necessary to ensure access to quality education to marginalised children.  Most of our beneficiaries are non Thai citizens of illiterate hill-tribe parents, and all are from very poor families and communities.

Nonetheless, our sponsorship program has also evolved over time to focus increasingly on improving the quality of education through the following actions: teacher training, running new programs such as the Bilingual Program in Pre-School and Primary School, and providing essential Life Skills and academic and career counselling to students to help them navigate everyday challenges and achieve their goals.  The Bilingual Classes Program provides primary school instruction in both Thai and in the beneficiaries’ local Hill-Tribe language.  Often, non Thai children reach primary school without knowing any Thai and this places them at a disadvantage with respect to their Thai peers.  The Bilingual Program helps them learn Thai more quickly and reduces the education gap with Thai speaking children. Students thereby increase their chances of succeeding in their first years of primary school, and not have to repeat First Grade due to language barriers.

Life Skills Training and Environmental Awareness teaching takes place through Girls and Boy Scouts Camps, Reproductive Health Training and Awareness Raising programs, and waste management programs in upper secondary schools.  Other activities include planting trees on the school campus, visiting nearby National Parks, and workshops on responses to natural adversities and disasters.  The Life Skills program is also structured so that team leaders and peer educators are chosen that will in turn impart the lessons learned to other students in the next term to increase the impact of the intervention.  During COVID-19, students were briefed on precautionary measures and personal hygiene, and taught how to prepare a do-it-yourself hand sanitizer to be used at home, schools, or communities.  Other Programs include Academic Guidance and Career Counselling Service and the Citizen Application Project launched several years ago to assist our beneficiaries in obtaining citizenship through the complex bureaucratic government process.

Since 2016, the Pistorio Foundation is working in partnership with CIAI in this region, phasing out of mature projects and from villages which over the years have succeeded in significantly raising their standard of living, and focusing increasingly on strengthening the educational outcomes in schools of ethnic minorities through life skills training.

In 2020, the schools closed only temporarily for the pandemic and reopened in October. Throughout this period, distance learning was implemented to follow students remotely through the use of iphones and by handing out homework workbooks and sheets that were regularly collected. As schools reopened, strict COVID safety measures were adopted in all the schools.  We have accompanied 65 students on scholarship throughout the year, in 17 schools in Chiang Rai, ChiangMai, and Lamphun Provinces.

In 2020, 25 of our students successfully obtained a vocational training or professional school degree from various Professional Schools including VBAC, Pa Sang Industrial and Community Education College, and Thoeng Industrial and Community Education College.

232 children in two primary schools have benefitted from our Bilingual Program; 354 preschool and primary children in three schools have received school supplies; 587 primary and middle school children have received Life Skill Training and Environmental Awareness Classes, and 27 upper secondary school students have received Career Guidance Counselling in upper secondary school.

 

 

From Our Beneficiaries

A.

lost his father when he was 3 years old, and was raised by his mother and grandmother. His mother struggled to find employment after the death of his grandmother. During his secondary school he was able to support his studies by helping teachers at his boarding school. Upon completing secondary school, he was accepted at Kanchanabhisek Technical College in 2019 to study Electrical Power.

After the first semester though, his mother told him she could not finance his studies and asked him to quit school and start working. As he did not have Thai Citizenship, he could not apply for a student loan.  His advisor suggested he apply for a scholarship from Pistorio Thailand Foundation and he was accepted and able to continue professional school.

He is now in his second year of Electrical Power and doing an apprenticeship with a local company in Chiang Rai as part of the program. In addition, the Foundation was able to connect him with a local air-con installation company that has hired him part time so he can earn some extra income in his free time.  A. is a very hard working, responsible, and committed student and intern.

In his own words: “I dream to have one day a small electrical appliances repair shop to support me and my family. I would like to thank Pistorio Thailand Foundation which not only gave me an opportunity to receive a scholarship but also offers continuous guidance and consultation in my career path. I know I have to hold on to my dream and never give up. The waiting can look painful but the regret of not trying for it will be even more painful.”

 

P.Y.

P.Y. is a young girl from a small mountainous village in the area of Thoeng District, Chiang Rai Province, close to the border with Laos. P.Y.  would like to continue studying to find the best employment possible in the future.  However, her father is in prison and her mother had to raise four children on her own.  P.Y. ’s elder sister left school after completing lower secondary to find work to help support the family.

P.Y.  was able to continue secondary school studies and enrol in VBAC in Marketing thanks to the  Pistorio Foundation scholarship. COVID has adversely affected her family as her sister lost her job.  In the second semester of Year 2, as part of the Professional School program, P.Y.  worked as an intern in a company in Bangkok and was able to earn some money to help her family in need.  This has helped her family tremendously during the pandemic.

P.Y. ’s dream is to find a good job after her studies and earn enough income to purchase a piece of land and build a small house for her family because their house now belongs to a neighbour and can be taken away from them any time.

 


L.K. has been able to pursue his passion for cars by studying Mechanics at Thoeng Technical College.  His good grades and determination qualified him for a higher vocational level degree of five years in total, which he was able to follow thanks to the Pistorio Thailand Foundation scholarship.

During his studies, he interned at a garage and his hard working personality and positive attitude were greatly appreciated by the employer.

L.K. was born in Thailand but does not have Thai Citizenship. His parents are illiterate and hence his application had been rejected.  Obtaining citizenship represented a further obstacle to his future, and the Pistorio Foundation assisted him in the legal process of obtaining it. We are now waiting for approval by the Chiang Rai Municipal Local Administration and confident he will obtain it. In the meantime, he has a job offer from the garage owner where he interned and will start upon graduation.

“In the future, after I gain more years of experience, I would like to open a small garage of my own so I can support my family and have a stable income and have a better life. Thank you for all your support, I truly appreciated what you have done for me. I can fly higher cause you are the wind beneath my wings.”

 

 

 

 

2020 Impact

Scholarship Program

  • 65 students on scholarship
  • 232 children have benefitted from the Bilingual Program
  • 354 preschool and primary children in three schools have received school supplies
  • 587 primary and middle school children have received Life Skill Training and Environmental Awareness Classes
  • 27 upper secondary school students received Career Guidance Counselling
  • 644 Total Direct Beneficiaries
  • 25 students successfully completed professional school
  • Pass rate: over 95%
  • Retention rate: 96%

Impact since 2006

  • over 3400 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.
  • 431 students have obtained a professional school diploma

 

Cambodia – Back to School Support

With an annual GDP growth rate of about 7% since 2011, Cambodia has experienced strong economic growth in the past decades, but real socioeconomic progress has been 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.  As over 50% of the population is under 25 years of age, job creation will be a major challenge for the economy to handle the demographic imbalance.  Obstacles to development include widespread lack of education and productive skills, particularly in the more impoverished rural areas, which also lack basic infrastructure. According to International Labor Organization’s analysis of statistics from Socio-Economic Survey (CSES), in 2016,  8.4% of children aged 5-17 were engaged in child labor, primarily in the agricultural sector, but also in brick making and services such as ambulant vendors, garbage scavengers, domestic workers, and in the hospitality and tourist industry, sometimes as a result of human trafficking from rural to urban areas and across country borders. Although primary school enrolment rates have improved over the years, lower secondary completion rates were still at 57% as of 2017.

Since 2006, the Pistorio Foundation has supported the education of hundreds of students at the schools of the NGO Pour Un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE), funding scholarships to street children and scavengers that have allowed them access to quality education, health care, and nutrition from nursery to professional school. Street children are enrolled in the “catch-up” school program which combines two years of schooling in one so that they complete twelve years of study in only 6 years.  Upon completing their secondary school studies, students can join a professional school at PSE which will help them acquire skills and qualifications to secure employment in reputable companies upon graduation, thereby breaking their generational cycle of poverty.

In 2020, the Foundation chose to participate in rebuilding and expanding one of the schools on the PSE campus.  The Foundation contributed to the construction of one classroom of a new school building which replaces the older wooden structure that had originally been built over twenty years ago. The new school facilities will allow access to more students and provide optimal environments for the children’s social and intellectual development. The new school structure is slated to open in January 2021.

Schools in Cambodia closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic.  During this time, distance schooling was implemented, also via a paper-based homework distribution system for 100 students who do not have any access to the internet or who live in areas with poor coverage and connection issues.  Smart phones with internet connections were distributed to students and families.  Most students stayed in touch with teachers via iphones. PSE schools reopened in September applying the sanitary protocol guidelines imposed by the government: small classes (10/15 students), part time schooling, and preventive measures such as physical distancing, wearing of masks, hand washing, and classroom sanitisation.  During the lockdown, many families experienced severe economic losses due to loss of employment or closure of their income generating activities. PSE has responded by increasing the number of families receiving food supplies and the volume of food donated during the pandemic.

In 2020, the Foundation chose to participate in rebuilding and expanding one of the schools on the PSE campus. 

The Foundation will be involved in 2021 in a project to develop and improve distance learning at PSE, to equip teachers, students, and families with the tools and skills to successfully implement e-learning.

 

FROM A PSE SCHOOL TEACHER
Koeun Dany, Professor of Physics

Koeun Dany, Professor of Physics

“The new classes make our work easier and our daily lives more enjoyable: we now have access to a good WIFI connection throughout the building, allowing us to prepare our lessons more serenely. The vast majority of rooms are equipped with projectors and fans.

The rooms are soundproof and very spacious, which is practical to ensure that the physical distances between the students are respected at this time.  For us teachers it is really very important to see our students studying in beautiful classrooms like these because they often don’t live in pleasant places, but at least they have a good school.
I think this motivates them even more to come to PSE to study!
I would like to thank all those who have helped PSE finance our new classrooms: thank you for your generosity, allowing PSE to continue to be a real machine to destroy poverty!”

 

 

2020 Impact

  • 27 direct beneficiaries
  • 1120 indirect beneficiaries
  • Infrastructure: 1 school classroom

Impact since 2009

  • 963 school years
  • 91 students have completed professional
  • Direct Beneficiaries of Library Projects and School Infrastructure- over 3100 students
  • 11 library/reading rooms and 1 school building classroom

 

Italy – Contrasting School Drop-Out Rates

Like the rest of the world, Italy has been hard hit by the COVID 19 pandemic.  According to Istat, in 2020 the number of families living in absolute poverty has doubled, from one million to two million, in the course of the year, and concerns a total of 5.6 million people, or 9.4% of the Italian population.  This is the highest rate since 2005, when individual absolute poverty levels were at about 3% of the population.  The country also has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe: the Cattolica University reports that 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) compared to an average of 14.2% in the rest of Europe.  The south of Italy, in particular, is the worst off in socioeconomic indicators.

Keen to contribute to alleviate the difficult situations of children and families in absolute poverty, the Foundation has partnered in 2019 with Mission Bambini to contrast school drop-out rates and provide educational support to disadvantaged children in Librino, the most degraded neighbourhood of Catania.  Librino lacks social services, greenery, and spaces for recreation for youth and adults.  It is lined with run down dilapidated public housing, and is practically disconnected from the rest of the city.  There are very few shops and commercial activities, yet recruitment in illegal work circuits is rife.  The neighbourhood has the highest juvenile crime rate in the city.  Children grow up in conditions of severe marginalisation and joining illegal circuits often represents the only alternative to a fate of poverty. High unemployment, marginalisation, and poverty, have favoured the spread of mafia culture which fills the void of absent official services, and is capable of offering “security”, opportunities for “careers”, and even “alternative social welfare” promising protection and support to orphans, widows, and families of those in prison.  The mafia becomes literally a subsystem and is perceived sometimes as the only source of livelihood.

The Talità Kum Center in Librino is located next to a district site known for illegality and drug dealing.   The objective of the center is to offer extracurricular activities to marginalised and at-risk children and youth, with professional educators and reference figures to foster the healthy physical, mental and emotional development of the child.  The center is a space of socialisation and learning in contrast to the culture of illegality and fills a void in the absence of public interventions.  Through the dedicated work of over 25 educators, tutors and volunteers, the project targets 100 children from the ages of 6 to 17 and in collaboration with families, teachers, schools, and a network of non profit organisations in the area, seeks to foster civic values and real opportunities for educating and protecting children.  The network developed by the Center also assists families and mothers of beneficiaries by providing counselling on nutrition, education, mental/physical well being, artistic expression (physical, musical, etc.), sustainability, and active citizenship.  During the COVID pandemic and the lockdown restrictions, the Center activated its networks to provide families with food supplies and prime necessities.

The Foundation sustains a part of the educational staff costs of the center responsible for academic tutoring, and for organising and running sports and recreational activities, intercultural exchanges and educational field trips for the children.  All the children are from extremely poor backgrounds and over 90% have a parent who is in prison or absent.  The Center offers a wide variety of activities from Monday to Friday in the afternoon, after school.  The staff interacts with school staff, social services and families to oversee the academic and developmental progress of every child.

The Center was forced to close during the lockdown, however, thanks to the use of iphones and tablets, many of which donated by the Foundation, educators were able to stay in touch and provide distance learning and tutoring to children.  When the lockdown was lifted, the Center reopened only in half its capacity because of the physical distancing measures and distance learning was continued.

The workshops and activities offered at the center include the following: school tutoring; waste recycling workshops (transforming used objects into new items through arts and crafts); IT skills development using PC and tablets, learning basic software programs, apps, and responsible use of the internet and social media; playing board games to develop social skills and appreciate frameworks of rules in games and respect towards others; group games involving movement and play to improve motor skills, vehicle aggressiveness, improve body awareness and interpersonal relations, gain self awareness and value rules as part of shared experiences. Other workshops are storytelling and activities designed to identify, manage, communicate, and express emotions through the use of books, art, IT, and physical movement. Students also receive lessons in English and sculpture to build self esteem in addition to manual skills.  Another workshop organised cultural visits to discover the neighbourhood’s areas of historical and cultural interest, to foster appreciation and care for one’s surroundings amongst children.  Robotics and coding is also offered to younger students.

Despite COVID lockdown difficulties, objectives of the programs have been reached: attendance has been over 95%; 80% of students have improved their social skills; all students have improved management and communication of their emotions during the workshops and interpersonal relations.

Despite COVID lockdown difficulties, objectives of the programs have been reached: attendance has been over 95%; 80% of students have improved their social skills

 

 

From our Beneficiaries

J., 11 years old
“I enjoy going to the Talita Kum Center because I can be with my friends, obviously respecting the COVID social distancing rules.  This place is like my second home because we are always happy here.  The best days are when we play board games all together.  The educators here always make us happy.”

R., 11 years old
“I come to the Talita Kum center to be with my friends and do homework, and also to do wonderful workshops.  My favorite ones are gardening and painting that we do for every celebration. I also love going to the beach and playing games in water or tug of war. The best moment is when we all run together into the sea water.  I always come here and nobody will ever stop me from coming here.”

N., 10 years old
“I have been coming here since I was small.  I like to do workshops in robotics, soccer, and art.  The first day I came here I was shy, but the educators cheered me up right away.  Talita Kum is the best place in the world, even if we have to also do homework.  I like talking with the educators that make me understand when I’m making mistakes but then I’m smiling again.  I am always happy here.”

 

 

2020 Impact

  • 43 direct beneficiaries
  • Outcomes
    • 95% attendance rate
    • 80% of children improved social skills
    • in general, students improve management and communication of their emotions during the workshops

 

 

COVID-19 Emergency Relief

Throughout the pandemic, the Foundation has continued to pursue its projects in every area of intervention, and has responded swiftly by implementing with local partners distance learning solutions for our beneficiaries.  All the schools we  support have been shut down during the crisis, and remote learning has been put in place in every possible way, by purchasing tablets and distributing smartphones with internet connection to children, depending on their needs. Furthermore, families of beneficiaries have been assisted with food supplies and prime necessities.

In Italy, the Foundation has supported the actions of volunteer groups that have organised themselves to distribute food and basic necessities to underprivileged families.  We have also responded to the request of contributing health care supplies to the municipality of Agira in Sicily.

It is important to reflect on the effects the socio economic crisis, following the health crisis of COVID-19, will have on children and youth and on their education.  We wish to be at the frontline in raising awareness on these challenges and committed to implementing solutions together with local partners, institutions and organisations, and our donors and supporters, with the shared objective of improving the lives of as many children as we can reach.

 

 

Foundation Board Members
Pasquale Pistorio President
Giacomo del Grande Treasurer and Board Member
Carmelo Papa Board Member
Elena Pistorio Board member
Carmelo Pistorio Board Member
 Staff  
Giovanni Santavicca Project Manager
Lucia Coletti Director of Operations
Choon Ky Support to the Director of Operations
Pro Bono Contributors
Mario Orlandi Graphic Designer – Website Publisher

Contacts

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