Subject: AU: First East Timorese teachers graduate

The Australian (Australia)

November 15, 2006 Wednesday

First East Timorese teachers graduate

Brendan O'Keefe

THE first cohort of trained primary teachers will graduate from East Timor's Baucau Teachers College this weekend, with degrees accredited by the Australian Catholic University.

The 50 teachers had been chosen from East Timor's 13 districts and have been encouraged to return to their home district on graduation from the three-year bachelor of teaching course.

ACU vice-chancellor Peter Sheehan will present the degrees on Saturday at Baucau, about 120km east of the capital, Dili.

ACU's Flagship for Creative and Authentic Leadership deputy director Tony d'Arbon said in a recent speech that East Timor's education system was still struggling and needed 200 new teachers each year just for primary schools.

The teachers college, Instituto Catolico Para Formacao Professores, is the only one of its kind in the country.

A full-time ACU staff member supervises the course, with help from visiting staff.

Brother d'Arbon said the East Timorese education ministry had been ''struggling to organise itself''.

''It has been our hope that we would receive funding from the [East Timorese] Government to support the efforts here, but their own internal organisation is not strong enough as yet to actually monitor and support our efforts,'' hesaid.

Last year, 250 hopefuls applied for places. This year, despite riots across the country, a further 50 first-year students were accepted, but from a smaller applicant body of 185.

Most of the first 50 graduates, who finished their courses a few months ago, had been placed in school districts not as teachers but as teacher trainers. ''This again reflects the Government's inability to effectively organise itself to provide [teaching] places,'' Brother d'Arbon said.

Many of the teachers college students were poor and had been helped by an ACU bursary.

''The people are mainly operating on an agricultural existence,'' Brother d'Arbon said.

''This means they rely on income seasonally when they can sell their crops. Living from handto mouth is still very much part of theexistence.''

Students engage in more than 35 hours of contact class time each week and the retention rate is 90 per cent.

''They are very conscientious and continue to amaze all of the staff [with their] zest for learning and succeeding,'' Brother d'Arbon said. ''These are the new breed and they are going to offer a lot to the future development of the country.''

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Mordialloc Chelsea Leader (Australia)

November 15, 2006 Wednesday

East Timorese visit

CHELSEA Heights Primary School hosted special guests from East Timor last week in a visit that may help boost education in the poverty-stricken country.

Friendship School co-ordinator Marcelina da Conceincao and education project manager of Alola Foundation Dili, Nivio Magalhaes paid special attention to classroom activities and the relationship between teachers and students.

They hope to take back their knowledge to the stretched education system in East Timor.

Robyn Irwin from Kingston Friends of Manatuto said school classes in East Timor were often bursting with 40 or more students and there was a shortage of teachers.

Chelsea Heights teacher Raelene Ford said it was a chance for her students to learn first-hand about education in East Timor.

The school is part of the Friendship School program in which it has been matched with the Rembor Primary School in Manatuto. The children have exchanged letters with their Timorese counterparts.

More than $800 has been raised at Chelsea Heights for literacy kits and teacher workshops in East Timor.


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