Timor Leste

As one of the poorest nations in Asia, it is said that Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) will rely on outside Aid for many years to come. This country has a well-known recent history of how its independence came about; the people of this country were met with very high levels of atrocity and violence. Over the past decade and post-independence, however, Timor-Leste has begun to benefit from the foundations of successful development. EAC, in partnership with UNESCO, aims to support children in this country by providing a full course of quality primary education to out of school children.

Timor Leste
source(s): UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/14

Main Barriers to Education

  • Poverty
  • Poor infrastructure
  • Rapid population growth
  • Conflict affected


In 1999, before independence in 2002, the people of this country were subjected to extreme violence, however, in 2006/7, the government of Timor-Leste succeeded in bringing about a more stable and secure environment for its people.  A coalition was built, which according to the BBC, increased tangible services and created a hard-won political stability with absence of conflict, and fostered a new confidence in the state.

By 2001, almost 90% of all school buildings, where 240,000 children were educated and 6000 teachers were employed, were destroyed.  In the time following independence (2002) and since stability has ensued, this country has faced enormous challenges in rebuilding its infrastructure in order to ensure that children could go to school.  Exacerbating this issue was rapid population growth, which meant that the government was placed under further unexpected pressure to ensure that children would be able to attend school.

The rebuilding of Timor-Leste has been supported by the development of off shore oil and gas resources, unfortunately this did not result in an industry that would boost employment as there are no production facilities in Timor-Leste.

The World Bank states that

“The World Development Report 2011 found that on average post-conflict countries take between 15 and 30 years – a full generation – to transition out of fragility and to build resilience. It is against this backdrop that social and economic development in Timor-Leste can be seen as remarkable.”


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Strengthening Education System for Out of School Children

The Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and East Timor continue to face challenges in reaching and educating out of school children (OOSC). The EAC-UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education Strengthening Education Systems for Out of School Children project seeks to enrol and retain 50,000 out of school children in quality primary education programs in the sub-region.



The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has partnered with EAC to work toward achieving Millennium Development Goal 2, ensuring universal primary education. As a strategic partner UNESCO works with EAC to advance the agenda of out of school children at an international level. In partnership with EAC, UNESCO also implements projects in ten countries to ensure that out of school children complete a full course of primary education.