Timor-Leste, or East Timor, is a Southeast Asian nation occupying half the island of Timor. Landmarks in the capital, Dili, speak to the country’s struggles for independence from Portugal in 1975 and then Indonesia in 2002. Timor-Leste has a population of 1,246,310; 31.9% are living in urban areas, with a median age of 17.5 years.
Considerable progress has been made in improving education in Timor-Leste since gaining independence in 2002, particularly in urban areas. However, there is still an ongoing need for emphasis on the importance of education to decrease the high repetition rate, especially among first graders.
Despite the challenges, Timor-Leste has demonstrated it is serious about education with the development of curriculum reforms. However, many teachers are not qualified, and have only completed secondary education.
How We’re Helping
For the last three years, Palms Australia has provided Paroquia St Teresinha do Menino Jesus (St Therese of the Child Jesus Parish) in Bedois, a suburb of Dili, with support and mentoring from qualified volunteers. Primary school teacher Rhoe Price is working with the Parish to improve educational outcomes for both students and teachers.
Rhoe is working across various primary and secondary schools run by the Parish to provide high-quality, consistent education and share best-practice teaching methodologies to improve their staff’s understanding of the new curriculum introduced by Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Education in 2013.
Is the Project Sustainable?
Through skill exchange and support, staff directly mentored by Rhoe will use their new skills to continually develop their own classroom methods, which will improve teacher quality and student learning outcomes. Improved English proficiency will also mean that more educational resources become readily available to them. The increased confidence and engagement of staff will inspire their peers, who will additionally benefit through their coaching.
On an organisational level, this becomes a culture of skill sharing, which will steer Paroquia St Teresinha’s schools into an improved education system in Timor-Leste. This will ultimately benefit students, families and the wider community.
The amount raised includes the volunteer’s accommodation expenses, which have kindly been covered by the host community.