Subject: LUSA: Lisbon plans major overhaul in education aid programs

07-10-2003 12:33:00. Notícia nº SIR-5474043 Temas: new destaque2

East Timor: Lisbon plans major overhaul in education aid programs

Canberra, Oct. 7 (Lusa) - Lisbon is preparing a "revolution" in its East Timor education aid programs, which are strongly centered on reintroducing the use of the Portuguese language, Portugal's top aid official said Tuesday.

António Lourenço dos Santos, the state secretary for foreign affairs and cooperation, told Lusa the new dynamic, set to begin this month, would focus on teaching Portuguese to East Timorese teachers, rather than to students as has been the case for the past three years.

The new strategy, he told Lusa in Canberra, where he arrived Monday to discuss Timorese aid programs with Australian authorities, would permit savings in scarce aid funds, through the reduction of the number of Portuguese teachers, while boosting the effectiveness of projects.

The current contingent of about 150 Portuguese teachers would be cut to less than 120, he said.

"There will be fewer teachers, but our intervention will have better results, allowing us to cover all disciplines, rather than just Portuguese", Lourenço dos Santos said, describing the effort as a "revolution" in Portugal's presence in its former colony.

Portuguese language programs would continue, he said, at major Timorese institutions, like the Defense Force, police and public administration departments.

On gaining independence from UN administration in May 2002, East Timor opted for Portuguese as one of its official languages, along with the local Tetum dialect and Indonesia's Bahasa, and joined the Lisbon-headquartered Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP).

In practice, however, only a small minority of East Timorese are fluent in Portuguese, following nearly a quarter century of Indonesian occupation.

Among the CPLP's major objectives is the promotion and defense of the Portuguese language within the eight-nation community and worldwide.


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