Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Investing in a new generation of leaders in Timor-Leste

Vilma Gloria Espirito Santo, a 12-year-old Grade 8 student of Soro Basic Education School
in Ainaro Municipality was elected as president of the school’s Student Council.
UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Education re-establish
Student Councils in Timor-Leste’s schools.
©UNICEF Timor-Leste/2017/bsoares
Ainaro Municipality - The newly-elected committee president sits patiently as she waits for her colleagues to join her. She’s wearing a crisp, pressed white blouse, and her long hair is neatly clipped back from her face, which breaks into a professional smile as her colleagues sit down.
“So we have a problem,” she announces. “Last year, we planted flowers at the school, but the animals got in and ate then. We need a fence.”

Her colleagues nod in agreement, and the president makes a note to request funding for construction. She immediately clips along to her next agenda item and as she speaks, swings skinny ankles above the ground where she sits, perched high on a chair. She wouldn’t be more than four feet tall, but that’s normal for a 12-year-old.

Vilma Gloria Espirito Santo is an eighth grade student at Soro Basic Education School in Soro village in Timor-Leste’s mountainous Ainaro municipality. In a mock election held as part of a UNICEF-supported training session, she was elected the president of her school’s new student council.