AFFILIATIONS AND MEMBER OF: 

  1. Forum NGO Timor-Leste (FONGTIL)
  2. Registered Legaly at the Ministry of Justice Timor-Leste
  3. Timor-Leste Coalition for Education (TLCE)
  4. Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE)
  5. International Peace Youth Group (IPYG)

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If you plan for a year-plant a Seeds, If you plan for ten years-plant the Tress and if you plan for hundreed years "Teach the People"

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About Timor Leste

East Timor, officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, is a country in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island within Indonesian West Timor. The country's size is about 15,410 km² (5,400 sq mi). It is one of the world's newest nation with a total population of just over one million people according to the 2010 census, although the population is rapidly expanding.

East Timor was colonised by Portugal in the 16th century, and was known as Portuguese Timor until Portugal's decolonisation of the country. In late 1975, East Timor declared its independence, but later that year was invaded and occupied by Indonesia and was declared Indonesia's 27th province the following year. In 1999, following the United Nations sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory and East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002. East Timor is one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in East Asia, the other being the Philippines.

East Timor has a lower-middle-income economy. It continues to suffer the after effects of a decades long independence struggle against Indonesia, which resulted in the deaths of possibly up to one third of the population, damaged infrastructure and displaced thousands of civilians. It is placed 147th on the Human Development Index (HDI).

It is a member of the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

Youth Issues in Timor-Leste

Limited Access to Education & Resources

Only one out of 10 children in Timor-Leste has the chance to go to preschool, the first time most children step into a classroom is at the age of six or seven. Upon entering school, chances are the language of instruction is different from the language they speak at home, further complicating the learning process.
For those who stay in school, the outcomes are not promising. Teachers are not adequately trained and face challenging circumstances ranging from poor facilities and materials to overcrowded classes. More than 70 percent of children cannot read a single word in Portuguese or Tetun, Timor-Leste’s official languages, by the end of first grade; 40 percent cannot read a single word after two full years of school. Repetition rates are high in the first three grades of school, comprising more than half of the children enrolled. Only 37 percent of children continue on to secondary school.

The nation’s lingual diversity also makes education and the provision of educational resources a challenge. There are very few libraries in Timor-Leste, and few books available in the languages most commonly spoken by youth in Dili; Tetun and bahasa Indonesia. There are currently no dictionaries, no books, and therefore no literacy, in any of the country’s fifteen Indigenous languages other than Tetun. Proposals to teach early years in mother-tongue languages to facilitate early learning and the transition to learning in the two official languages, Tetun and Portuguese, are currently not possible due to a lack of qualified teachers and educational resources for providing education in these languages.

     Learn about how Action for Change Foundation is improving access to education and resources in Timor-Leste.

Disempowered Youth

Since the end of the armed conflict in Timor-Leste in 1999, regional tensions and gang violence have continued. The conflict has prevented and disrupted the education of many Timorese youth, and as a result they are lacking basic knowledge and skills needed for gainful employment. Timor-Leste’s population is more than 60% youth, who face higher unemployment rates than older age brackets. According to the 2010 Census the unemployment rate for people in Dili aged 10+ stands at an alarming 17.7%, and according to January 2013 reports by SEFOPE there are currently 7,000 unemployed youth living in Dili. Subsequent related problems for Timorese youth are disempowerment from lack of opportunity and agency, low self-esteem and financial insecurity.

With little hope and limited options for building a peaceful and constructive path to their future, many young Timorese have been turning to gangs and martial arts groups, some of which are involved in violence and street crime. As well as creating instability within disadvantaged communities, there is also a significant risk that this culture of violence will perpetuate this cycle of low education, poverty and unemployment for future generations of Timorese.

     Learn about how Action for Change Foundation is empowering youth in Timor-Leste.

Gender Inequality

Within this sociological framework of youth issues, women also face gender-based discrimination. Traditionally Timor-Leste has been a patriarchal culture, with most decision-making power and employment and education opportunities going to men. The 2010 Census showed that women in Dili aged 10+ have lower employment rates, lower economic activity rates and lower participation rates. The census also shows disparate secondary school enrolment and completion figures for women versus men, and lower literacy rates of women. There has also been a history of women experiencing domestic violence and limited decision-making over maternal health. Although a number of dedicated organisations are working in Timor-Leste to promote equal rights and opportunities for women, there is a long road ahead and deeply ingrained cultural attitudes about gender roles.

     Learn about how Action for Change Foundation is closing the gender gap in Timor-Leste.