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East Timor: “Literacy Often Falls by the Way Side”

Categories: East Asia, Timor-Leste, Education, Governance, Youth
"East Timor waiting for school to start", Same (06/09/2010). Photo by john.hession on Flickr (CC BY 2.0) [1]

“East Timor waiting for school to start”, Same (06/09/2010). Photo by john.hession on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Marking the International Literacy Day [2], September 8, The Asia Foundation's blog, In Asia presents [3] striking numbers on the quality of educational outcomes in Timor-Leste, a country where “education, and literacy in particular, too often falls by the wayside”:

World Bank research found that 70 percent of first grade students in Timor-Leste were unable to read a single word of a simple text passage randomly selected in either of the country’s official languages, Portuguese or Tetun.

The Silent Crisis in Timor-Leste’s Development Trajectory [3]‘ by The Asia Foundation's Country Representative in Timor-Leste, Susan Marx [4], and Mário F. Costa Pinhero [5], stresses the ongoing debate on the language policy of Asia’s youngest nation. As Global Voices reported [6] back in 2011, the number of national languages [7] is up to 16 and dozens of other dialects are used on a daily basis by Timorese citizens. The article addresses progress and hindrance to government's strategies, and states that “a more fundamental challenge lies in the overwhelming lack of a reading culture“.