Subject: TimorAid: East Timorese Set To Become World Citizens

From Timor Aid

East Timorese Set To Become World Citizens

By Sarah Francis

It has been a busy year for Timor Aid's project manager Francisco Cruz, but the eagerly anticipated World Citizens Project Internet link-up will soon be ready to commence.

In 2006 Mercy Corps approached Timor Aid, one of East Timor's major development organizations, with a proposal to connect Scottish and East Timorese high schools. The so-called 'World Citizens Project' aims to empower youth to become active global citizens, as a part of a worldwide peace movement initiated by The Association of World Citizens. Currently 50 countries participate in the network in which topics such as poverty and environmental degradation are discussed.

The World Citizens Project will involve Scottish and East Timorese high schools interacting via the Internet. The website <> will provide a forum for teachers and students to share stories, pictures and videos about their respective lives and cultures, which Francisco hopes will lead to an "awareness of another world beyond their own communities."

During the 24-year period of Indonesian occupation of East Timor, people were denied democratic rights and had limited access to international media. Consequently the project will be particularly valuable in providing a global dimension to East Timor's current citizenship education programs.

Preparations to date have included the creation of project steering committees in Scotland and East Timor, which consist of representative teachers from each participating high school. As part of a baseline survey, East Timorese students were tested on their knowledge of world issues and their understanding of 'citizenship'. These markers are being used to determine which topics will be most beneficial as bases for discussion and information sharing.

High school teachers from Dili are undertaking professional development training in Timor Aid's office. They are learning computer navigation skills, Internet browsing techniques and video production methods, in order to enhance their capacity to effectively communicate with Scottish schools.

After months of preparation Francisco is looking forward to the first Internet link-up, and is optimistic about the future of the project. "I believe that it will be very valuable for everyone involved. The project will teach people to think on a global level."

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