Status of Education in Timor-Leste
Pre-independence negligence and damage incurred during the post-liberation period left Timorese educational institutions barren of resources and 90 percent of schools and educational facilities destroyed. Only 58.6 percent of the population of Timor-Leste is considered literate and more than a third is under the age of 15. The nation comprises 450 villages across 13 districts with poor infrastructure, no national postal system, and very limited access to print media, radio, or television. Most of the population survives on less than US$1.00 per day. English is spoken by a small percentage of the population (5.8 percent) but is gaining in popularity.
Books for Asia Timor-Leste distributes 30,000-40,000 new textbooks and general reading materials donated by American publishers annually to approximately 140 organizations across all of Timor Leste's 13 districts.
Program and Partner Highlights
Books Drive: During FY10, BFA organized three times Books Drive and was able to distribute a total of 12,000 books to more than 30 recipients. While all Books Drive activities conducted in Dili, some of the recipients were from Baucau, Manatuto, Aileu and Ainaro. On July 16, 2010 Books Drive, Mrs. Diamantina de Jesus Martins, of Aileu Resource and Training Center (ARTC) shared ARTC’s experiences on organizing Reading Contests to other BFA recipients. This is to motivate other BFA recipients to organize activities in order to cultivate reading culture or literacy in people’s lives.
Reading Contests. To promote literacy, The Asia Foundation, in coordination with the Aileu Resources and Training Center (ARTC) and the Xanana Reading Room, facilitates annual reading and writing contests. These district-level contests attract nearly 100 primary and secondary schools. Books for Asia awards the winning school with a collection of books – a valued prize in communities with few printed materials.
Parliamentary Library and Research Center (PRC). A partnership between the U.S. House Democracy Assistance Commission, the National Parliament of Timor-Leste, the U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. Embassy and USAID in Dili, and The Asia Foundation led to the 2008 opening of a library for Timor-Leste's new parliamentarians. Previously, Timor-Leste's 65-member parliament shared four computers and a single Internet connection. Today, the PRC includes trained researchers, IT officers, and library staff to help members of Parliament use 12 workstations with Internet access, AV equipment, and over 400 relevant books and resource materials to research and analyze legislative issues.
Major publisher donors: McGraw Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Pearson, Lynne Rienner, W.W. Norton & Company, and Island Press.