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NZ gifts education project to East Timor

Sunday 19 May 2002 Media Statement

NZ gifts education project to East Timor


The government announced today that its independence gift for East Timor will be a $200,000 education project in Cova Lima district - one of the areas of geographical focus for New Zealand¡¦s overseas development aid programme in East Timor.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, Foreign Minister Phil Goff, and Associate Foreign Minister Matt Robson, who are in East Timor for its independence celebrations, said the project would be funded over a three year timeframe.

The project would focus on the rehabilitation of a number of pre and primary schools, the provision of textbooks, and curriculum development.

Specifically, it would include:
„X basic infrastructure and rehabilitation of destroyed pre and primary schools; training and professional development for teachers;
„X strengthening of institutional capacity and school management;
„X provision of essential school resources including teaching materials and textbooks;
„X curriculum development focussed on the standardisation of Tetum ¡V the dominant indigenous language - and basic literacy for poor and vulnerable groups;
„X strengthening local community appreciation of, and participation in, education;
„X and ensuring girls and women have access to education.

Building sites for a pre school in Suai and a primary school in the remote area of Fohorem have been identified as the two schools for development in the first year.

The Ministers said that in a recent countrywide consultation in East Timor, 70 per cent of the population prioritised education as one of the most important sectors for development and this has been reflected in the draft National Development Plan.

¡§East Timor has an illiteracy rate of 50 to 60 per cent. Around 45 per cent of the current population of 790,000 have never attended school. Almost two-thirds of the female population is illiterate. There is a shortage of trained teachers, and teaching and curriculum quality is low.

¡§Education will play a crucial role in East Timor¡¦s development in reducing poverty, promoting economic growth and in improving the livelihoods of its population,¡¨ the Ministers said.

The New Zealand Overseas Development Aid-East Timor bilateral programme is expanding to NZ$10 million over the period 2001-2005, as agreed to by the East Timorese government and NZ Ministers in July 2001. The 2002/03 allocation of NZ$2.5 million represents an increase of NZ$400,000 over the 2001/02 programme.

The independence gift will be funded annually from within the expanding $10m bilateral programme.


ENDS

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