Timor-Leste with a faltering education: where are we headed?

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(Dili) Media Mudansa- Education is a crucial point for the development of a country, which requires in vital sectors such as the General State Budget, Teaching Process, Curriculum, Basic Infrastructure, and the lack of central systems that become important for our educational system in Timor-Leste, although there are other factors that the author would like to present, which make our education in Timor-Leste advanced. The objective of Education according to international conventions on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which our government has already ratified, is to develop the personality and dignity of individuals and reinforce respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, promoting understanding, tolerance, and friendship among nations and racial, ethnic, or religious groups.

The purpose of this text is to explain the emphasis of definitions derived from philosophical circumstances. In philosophy and education, three essential points are Reality, Knowledge, and Values. These three points contextualize education in Timor-Leste. Currently, we are in a phase that requires idealism and temporal pressures that we face daily. Education is the main weapon that plays an important role in building the foundations of people’s lives. Therefore, the rulers who have the authority to lead education must have the responsibility to guide people for the future of the country. Education itself has its fundamental objectives, as a means of developing people’s potential and educating them to become competent and ready to compete in the world. Education in the state is a crucial factor and must receive attention and development.

Human Capital Development requires essential points such as: Knowledge, Skills, Experience, Attitudes, Values, and Abilities. This allows the production of services with economic value that can contribute to reducing unemployment rates in the country. It is necessary to develop a solid and adequate educational sector that serves as an indicator of success to lead the country to success. Education is a broad factor that, from generation to generation, develops people’s skills as heritage. In the teaching process, it is taught how to train and develop people to carry out research. The author wishes for a profound analysis that contemplates the essential points mentioned above, reflecting on arguments such as the following: political parties that hold political power in the National Parliament and those in the executive body continue to keep the State of Timor-Leste at risk, deviating from the objectives of Sustainable Development that were established. While many are exposed to risks and lack the necessary knowledge and skills for scientific and technological modernization, our educational sector is not adequately equipped to empower people of productive age to compete with continuous foreign investment.

One of the vital sectors for the development of our country is the educational sector, which is underfunded and undersized, as in 2023 we invested only 10% of the total, while standards say that education should receive 25% of investment each period. Another factor is that our education does not produce options and opportunities for innovation, maintaining and sustaining development is difficult without options for innovation, making it difficult for the state of Timor-Leste to compete in emerging global markets, so it is urgent to generate various innovations; education has its own strength and power to transform people’s lives from a vulnerable situation to one in which, if this does not happen, people will continue to be at risk of life due to their vulnerability and uncertainty.

In this case, the fundamental problems affecting education in Timor-Leste are evident. Insufficient investment in the educational sector, with the government of Timor-Leste allocating only 2.6% of GDP to Education, withdrawing funds from Education and Health from the Infrastructure Fund 2011-2019: $51.5 million, only 1.5% of the Infrastructure Fund for Education, receiving only 0.2%. Although in 2023 the rulers allocated funds to vital sectors such as education, health, and agriculture, 15% below the necessary standard, in which education should receive 25% of the GEB each period. Another cause is the lack of a central system to guide education in Timor-Leste, with inadequate curricula to guide our teaching processes and a status of teachers that is still not clearly defined, although today there are paths for teachers through online tests, this situation causes the loss of many children at municipal levels of learning. Another problem that hampers education in Timor-Leste is the continuous politicization of educational institutions in favor of partisan interests, which continues to deprive the country of hope.

Timor-Leste is moving towards a better and more suitable future for all Timorese, and this is what the author wishes to propose as an alternative that can help people make decisions, contemplating points such as: The government of Timor-Leste needs to significantly invest in the educational sector to develop basic infrastructure in public schools that are currently in critical condition. We need a curriculum and system that serves as a guide for teaching processes and we must also stop actions that politicize education in favor of group and political party interests. There must be a specific policy for education in Timor-Leste, in the processes by which leaders must reconsider the objectives of sustainable development that speak about the quality of education, and the authorities leading education in Timor-Leste must be professional, meritorious, and technocrats.

Written by: José Ramalho

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