Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e
The East Timor National NGO Forum
Kaikoli Street, Dili-East Timor telephone 322772/ email@example.com
BRIEFING PAPER TO DONORS
MEETING ON EAST TIMOR
CANBERRA June 2001
Considerable progress has been made since September 1999. We know that UNTAET and ETTA staff at national and district level have worked tirelessly to establish a new school system in the ashes of the old. In the primary sector, for example, the increase in primary school enrolment at the start of the school year was a significant achievement. Steady progress has been made towards re-establishing basic primary classroom facilities. However, much remains to be done. We know that the strong enrolment figures mask a number of negative factors affecting children’s learning in primary school. Limited class time is one problem: most children are only in class 2-4 hours a day. Poor attendance is another important issue. Some children stay away from school because they have to work in order to help support the family. Others stay at home when the exercise books and pencils provided by the Administration are used up, since their parents cannot afford to buy more. The language transition in primary schools is also proving a significant barrier to learning at the present time. We believe that it is vital for ETTA and donors to listen to civil society views about the situation in education at the point of delivery, so that appropriate strategies can be devised.
The major mechanism for development in
the education sector has been the TFET funded Emergency School Readiness
Project that focuses on primary and secondary education. This has
been complemented by bilateral funding programs and some international
NGO funding. We believe that the potential for national and international
NGOs to contribute human and financial resources to the education sector
has yet to be fully realized. This is particularly true with the
non-formal sector where civil society organizations have a special contribution
Article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) declares that all children have a right to education. It is the state’s responsibility to provide primary education free to all, drawing on international assistance where necessary to ensure this right. Furthermore, article 2 establishes that all rights apply to all children without discrimination on grounds of gender, disability, ethnicity, religion or citizenship.
International targets to achieve the right to education were set at the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, 1990). At the World Summit on Social Development (1995) a commitment was made by governments to eliminate gender disparities in education by 2005. The targets set in 1990 were reviewed and revised in 2000 at the World Education Forum (Dakar) when an undertaking was given by governments that ‘no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources.’ At Dakar governments also agreed:
‘to develop or strengthen existing national plans of action by 2002 at the latest… developed through more transparent and democratic processes, involving stakeholders, especially people’s representatives, community leaders, parents, learners, NGOs and civil society. The plans will address problems associated with the chronic under-financing of basic education by establishing budget priorities that reflect a commitment to achieving Education For All goals and targets at the earliest possible date, and no later than 2015.’
The Magna Carta adopted at the East Timorese National Convention in the Diaspora (1998), declared acceptance of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and proclaimed that an independent East Timor would promote ‘The right to a democratic education’. Furthermore, it proclaimed that ‘the children and youth shall represent our hope in the future, and the protection and promotion of their rights shall always be a priority’.
At the CNRT National
Congress, 2000, commission III recommended the creation of ‘mechanisms
for the protection of the rights of women, children, the elderly and those
with physical and mental disabilities’. It also recommended
that equal opportunities should be ensured ‘to both genders taking into
account specific needs of women where priority must be given'.
At present, the priorities of ETTA are not widely understood. Such a framework for education should be developed by the future government via a process of broad consultation with civil society. This would enable decisions to be understood and owned by the people of East Timor. A sense of ownership is required if society is to be mobilized in the cause of education. At present, the involvement of parents, for example, in the running of schools is limited.
There should be donor coordination with civil society to ensure that programs developed via the various channels (CFET, TFET, bilateral etc.) are incorporated within the agreed framework.
Education should be seen as the key to
East Timor’s future. However, UNTAET and ETTA have not given education
the prominence it deserves in their communication with the people. (At
present, teachers in the districts report that they do not receive information
from the district education office.) Once the national vision is
agreed there should be a massive social communication campaign to promote
We argue that all significant data of public
interest collected by the Education Division- for example, gender disaggregated
enrolment data- should be routinely distributed to civil society organizations
in translated form so that they can participate in decision-making.
Donor mission reports- perhaps in summarized form- should also be distributed.
Lack of information causes mistrust and diminishes voluntary efforts. The
NGO Forum Education working group (‘the Education Forum’) can provide one
channel for the flow of information. The policy formulation process
should involve civil society participation at the district level as well
as the national. Over time trust should be built between all the
actors involved in nation-building. Democratic participation can
reduce the risk of short-term unsustainable practices.
Access to appropriate education should be provided for excluded groups. Poverty continues to exclude many children and adults from education- especially in rural and remote areas. (Although UNTAET/ETTA should be applauded for pro-poor policies such as removing the requirement for school uniforms and examination fees.) Both boys and girls are excluded from school because they are required to work to contribute to the family income.
We also believe strongly that equal access
to education should be provided for people with disabilities and other
special needs; this includes both children and adults traumatized by the
events of recent years. There is a need to support alternative education
initiatives for those children who are unable to access the mainstream
schooling system while also ensuring that mainstream schools are accessible
to children who may be unable to attend them without support
Educational opportunities for youth must not be restricted to those able to go to university. Youth centres providing a range of activities including skills training should be set up, with access guaranteed to both men and women.
We believe that education in East Timor
should express the egalitarian and humanistic values described in the landmark
documents referred to in section 2 above. If the diversity of learning
needs is to be met, then NGOs and other civil society organizations- who
have the required local knowledge- must take the lead.
Teachers report that the student-teacher ratio still remains at a level that makes effective learning difficult. Although teacher salaries have increased on the levels prior to September 1999, teachers indicate that the dramatic increase in the cost of living has eroded the value of their salaries. Both these issues need to be addressed over the long-term through a process of dialogue and consultation between the future government and the teachers’ union.
The recruitment and placement of female teachers is a key issue. The overall percentage of women teachers in East Timor is low in all sectors and affirmative action should be taken to redress this imbalance. As it is, women with many years of experience are being excluded from employment due to the selection process. In a number of sub-districts, there are no female primary school teachers. This has a negative impact on the educational opportunities open to girls at school. Special measures should be piloted in order to place female teachers in the sub-districts affected.
Teachers report that furniture provision remains generally poor and has a very negative impact on learning. This is despite the fact that some progress has been made in the distribution of furniture. Similarly, there are serious gaps remaining in the provision of text-books and other learning resources. Strategies such as resource centres need to be devised in order to meet these needs.
Timor National NGO Forum / Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e
Updated June 14
Umbrella agency for East Timorese Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
VISION: To contribute to the building of a pluralist, democratic, just and sustainable East Timor through the development of a strong, independent and responsible civil society committed to upholding and making real in the daily life of the community, both village and urban, the full range of human rights so that all East Timorese, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, can enjoy the fruits of liberation and development in an East Timor forever free.
MISSION: To realise its vision by promoting a culture of learning, cooperation, partnership with the community and respect for human rights and good practice amongst East Timorese NGOs and between them and other development actors, both domestic and international, and by serving as a collective, independent voice for the rights and needs of the community.
VALUES AND PRINCIPLES: a rights approach to development; inclusiveness, participation; accountability; gender balance; respect for the environment; non-party political; non-sectarian; good governance; volunteerism.
Kaikoli Street, Dili-East Timor Telephone +670(390)322772
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/etngoforum/index.html
Jun 7 ETNGO Forum: Donors Meeting must be for Rural People: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/01junrural.htm
Jun 13 ETNGO Forum: The voice of Civil Society calls the Donors: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/01jundonors.htm
BD: East Timor National NGO Forum / Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e - A collection of recent media releases, position-statements, speeches, petitions, reports, and news