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Friday, September 14, 2012: Timor-Leste’s President Calls for Redoubling of Nation’s Commitment to Education

Timor-Lesteâs President Calls for Redoubling of Nationâs Commitment to Education

Note: This article originally appeared on the website of The Asia Foundation

September 14, 2011

By Dores Vilanova and John J. Brandon and Roselia Pinto

On September 8, The Asia Foundation commemorated International Literacy Day for the first time in Timor-Leste. The Foundation partnered with the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, Alola Foundation, Care International, and Timor Aid to host a book fair for primary and secondary students. More than 4,000 books were distributed to schools in Dili. Since 2004, the Foundation’s Books for Asia program has donated more than 115,000 books to schools and other institutions throughout the country, a nation sorely in need of a culture supportive of learning and resources such as public libraries.

When Timor-Leste achieved independence in 2002, only 32 percent of the nation’s populace over the age of 15 was literate. Moreover, the violence that ensued after the people of Timor-Leste voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia destroyed 80 percent of the nation’s infrastructure, including schools – making Timor-Leste one of the poorest nations in the world with basic income, health, and literacy levels on par with the nations of sub-Saharan Africa.

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