Thursday, June 22, 2017

Building a brighter future for school children in remote villages of Timor-Leste

Students of Urahou 1 Escola Basica Filial School celebrating construction
of their new school building.
©UNICEF Timor-Leste/2017/agomes
“The school is about to collapse. The roof is broken and the floor is cracked. We have a toilet but some children still go to the bushes,” says Gabriel Soares dos Santos, a teacher at the Urahou 1 Escola Basica Filial School in Ermera Municipality.

The current condition of the school is not uncommon in the remote villages of Timor-Leste where road access is limited during the rainy season that can last up to nine months in a year. Landslides are also a major problem preventing travel to these villages sometimes for weeks, with dirt roads far too muddy and slippery for vehicles.

Like several other schools in Timor-Leste, Urahou 1 Escola Basica Filial School is overcrowded, poorly maintained and lacks adequate facilities. The school caters for primary education Grades 1 to 6 students. There are currently 531 students, 261 of whom are girls and 270 are boys managed by nine teachers. The average student per classroom is 80. The school has six classrooms, three of which are in very poor condition. It has four toilet cabins but only two are in use and the school has no water supply. This makes existing facilities very difficult for students to use.

Monday, June 5, 2017

International Children’s Day: The first ever National Action Plan for Children launched in Timor-Leste

Festivity marks the celebration of International Children’s Day 2017.
©UNICEF Timor-Leste/2017/ahelin
“I am a child of Timor-Leste, and I am the future,” sang the children, a chorus that echoed throughout the gardens of the Presidential Palace in Dili, Timor-Leste’s capital. This marked the beginning of celebrations for International Children’s Day and the launch of the first ever National Action Plan for Children (2016-2020). The Action Plan resonates with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), offering strategies and concrete targets for improving the lives of all children and assisting them in reaching their full potential.

More than 300 participants, most of them young pre-school children between the ages of three and five, travelled from across Timor-Leste to celebrate this significant milestone, the launching of the National Action Plan for Children jointly by the President and the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, a first in the young nation’s history.

With the Presidential gardens full of balloons and flowers, a pre-school marching band played and children ran around waving Timorese flags. The energy and excitement was contagious, with all present celebrating the progress made and the promise of an even brighter future. The way forward was emotionally captured as the children sang, “We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day…...”