Education in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste is a Southeastern Asian country occupying the east side of the island, Timor. The small country is home to a little more than 1 million people. Unfortunately, the literacy rate is only 67.5 percent. Improving the quality of education has been a struggle, but there has been significant progress in the past 18 years. Here are eight facts about education in Timor-Leste.

 8 Facts About Education in Timor-Leste

    1. By 2001, a year before gaining its independence, 90 percent of schools had been destroyed due to the violence and destruction that ensued from Indonesia’s rule over the country. These destroyed schools had once employed 6,000 teachers and educated 240,000 children. After Timor-Leste gained its independence, the country had to completely rebuild these institutions from the ground up.

    2. Because of the focus on rebuilding education, Timor-Leste was able to make quick progress. Between 2002 and 2014, enrollments went from 240,000 students enrolled to 364,000. The number of teachers doubled during this time, going from 6,000 to 12,000. Primary education enrollment increased from 68 percent in 2005 to 85 percent in 2008.

    3. Despite the increase in school enrollment, many young and adult Timorese lack the basic education needed to fully participate in society and contribute to the economy. Unfortunately, 27 percent of the adult population is semi-literate and 37 percent is completely illiterate.

    4. In 2010, the World Bank set up its Second Chance Education project to boost the number of out-of-school youth and adults who have access to an equivalency program to receive the education they missed. The Second Chance Education project ran from December 2010 to December 2015, supporting the Ministry of Education in Timor-Leste. Its major goals included training staff members, developing school curriculums and improving existing adult literacy programs. The same year, the government aimed to accelerate the completion of basic education for uneducated students due to lack of availability, while trying to build the education system back up. Government expenditure on education had increased from 13 percent in 2004 to 25 percent in 2010.

    5. The quality of education has room for improvement. About 70 percent of students in grade one could not read a single written word in Portuguese and the native Tetum language, the two most commonly spoken languages in the country. This, however, decreased to 40 percent by the end of grade two. Still, by the end of their second year of schooling, 40 percent of kids are still illiterate.

    6. Many teachers have only completed secondary school themselves. But with UNICEF supporting the Ministry of Education, teachers are trained in order to improve the quality of education. Teachers who have already gone through training have noticed that with their new direction toward teaching, students are more engaged and more conversation between instructor and student.

    7. There is a large gap between access to education between rural and urban areas. For urban residents, the enrollment rate for pre-secondary and secondary levels is 100 percent, while in rural areas, it is only 60 percent. Likewise, the literacy rate for youth ages 15-24 in urban sections of the country is 94.3 percent, but 78.5 in rural locations. The Education Management Information System works toward future teacher redistribution. This will place more teachers in rural areas in hopes of increasing the quality of education and bridging the gap between rural and urban.

    8. CARE’s Lafaek Education project provided “Lafaek Prima,” educational magazines written in Tetum, for 85,276 students in grades three and four. This builds off of what these students already learned in grades one and two; the content prepared in collaboration with teachers, educational staff and the government, ensures that the magazine is suitable for their students.

Despite working from the ground up, education in Timor-Leste has greatly improved since it gained its independence in 2002. The government has stepped in, as well as other organizations, to prioritize educational needs across the country. In the long term, this will assist the Timorese in climbing out of poverty.

Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr

A Look Into Education in GuyanaWith at least 250 million children out of school, education remains a top priority for countries all over the world. The Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals had education-oriented targets that countries had to meet. While some countries did meet the targets for the Millennium Development Goals, a large portion of those countries were already developed, high-income countries.

Much like other lower-middle income countries, Guyana has had limited success achieving the Millennium Development Goal concerning primary education. The nation is located in South America, just north of Brazil and west of Venezuela. While it has made significant process in other areas, Guyana could do more for education.

Enrollment and Literacy
Perhaps the area with the largest room for improvement, Guyana only allocated about 4 percent of its GDP to education between 2006 and 2012. The lack of spending has led to a decrease in enrollment in primary school education, from 95 percent in 2005 to 84 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, the average amount of time a student should expect to receive education is approximately 10 years, or until they are 16 years old. Guyana’s total literacy rate is approximately 89 percent. The youth literacy rate, however, is 93 percent, suggesting that Guyana’s youth are becoming more educated overall.

Policy and Promotion
Although Guyana’s government has not allocated a large amount of money for education, it still utilizes other methods to promote staying in school. According to Guyana’s Ministry of Education, 2008 marked the beginning of the strategic plan intending to improve Guyana’s quality of education and increase the number of students prepared for the workforce. As recently as 2014, the Ministry of Education has created more plans to encourage students to complete secondary education.

Guyana has also created a large media campaign called “Read. Play. Love.” that stresses the importance of early education. Created through a partnership with the Global Partnership for Education, the campaign addresses parents of children under five and those who live in rural areas. The campaign provides a new way to instill the desire for lifelong learning in children.

Education in Guyana, as in any other country, is a complicated topic with no one-size-fits-all solution. Ways to innovatively address issues in education in Guyana can help lead to solutions for the rest of the world. With the increased spending by the government and more participation by parents, Guyana has the opportunity to make more improvements in education.

Selasi Amoani

Photo: Flickr

Education in TaiwanAlthough Taiwan produces some of the most accomplished students in the world, its educational system is not without shortcomings. Education in Taiwan continues to be a subject of discourse; these nine facts can help you better understand the situation.

  1. Tensions over statehood manifest at every level of education in Taiwan. Because Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China, the central educational authority in Taiwan is the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China.
  2. The education system is run by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. It consists of basic elementary education, junior high school and senior secondary education.
  3. The official language of instruction is Mandarin Chinese.
  4. The literacy rate among Taiwanese people age 15 and above was 98.5 percent as of 2014.
  5. Compared to the rest of the world, students who graduate from the educational system in Taiwan achieve some of the highest scores on an international level. Comparatively, these students excel in mathematics and science. However, it has been proposed that there is too far great a focus on memorization in the educational system and a lack of creative instruction.
  6. Taiwan has a testing-oriented education system, which also poses several issues. Standardized test results have recently demonstrated the shortcomings of this system. In 2006, only 4.7 percent of Taiwan students were reading at the highest level, according to the Program for International Student Assessment. The studies suggest that students are without the ability to read or think critically.
  7. In 2014, the Ministry of Education implemented reforms that included adding three years of compulsory education in secondary schools. This was in response to the aforementioned criticisms of the previous system.
  8. The reforms included “exam-free” pathways to secondary schools, a less restrictive curriculum, subsidies for students from disadvantaged homes and making arts education available to all students, among others.
  9. Population decline poses a real threat to the Taiwan’s higher education sector. By 2023, the number of predicted student enrollments in higher education is projected to drop by a third. This will also have implications for the higher education sector of Taiwan in the globalized education market.

Education in Taiwan continues to progress, especially towards targeting areas that it is less proficient in. With the added focus on reading, arts and creativity, along with less pressure to score high on exams, Taiwan is working to ensure that its educational system meets the needs of all its students.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Kenya: The Relevance of Education

There are three major causes of poverty in Kenya relating to a lack of adequate education, even though Kenya is a country that values education and recognizes its long-term benefits for the nation. Kenya is in dire need of assistance to rise above the poverty line, considering 45.9 percent of the population were below that line in 2005.

Kenya is a society that values education highly; in fact, 95.6 percent of youth were enrolled in basic education in 2000 and 108.9 percent were enrolled in 2015. The data exceeds 100 percent due to overage and underage Kenyans attending school. The influx in enrollment was partially caused by the abolishment of entry fees for primary schools in 2006.

However, the first of many causes of poverty in Kenya is the amount of funding the schools require from Kenyans and government officials to provide adequate materials and resources. Just this month, a Kenyan youth mentor named Michael Wanjala, who was raised in Nairobi, shared: “The thing that pushed me so much was one day when mom went to ask for a loan of 2,000 shillings to pay for my education…It was so hard. I had to go and ask for textbooks. I had to go and ask for a uniform, for shoes.”

Overpopulation is the second issue because the vast quantity of enrolled children today means there is a higher demand in resources for a well-equipped, productive learning environment.

Furthermore, a poor quality education is another one of the causes of poverty in Kenya. A high number of children are cramped together in classrooms, there are minimal teaching materials and each class has a single teacher. With a poor teacher to student ratio, children who learn differently end up getting left behind because the teacher does not have a chance to serve each child individually. Those children who are left behind remain enrolled in school until they can catch up, adding to the amount of resources needed, since there is not an even ratio of new students to graduated students.

The Ministry of Education has already established a Directorate of Quality Assurance and Standards under the Education Act of Kenya to begin the process of monitoring teachers’ performances and to improve the quality of Kenya’s basic education.

Simply because many Kenyan children attend school does not necessarily mean that they are benefitting from the experience as much as they could be. If they were provided with more schools, teachers, resources and extra funding for additional materials, then their attendance in primary schools would make a greater impact on the country’s poor. Kenya’s school system needs to match the demand caused by their large population so that children can obtain a quality education and – hopefully – be better equipped to lift themselves out of poverty and succeed in the future.

Brianna White

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in JordanThere were 655,833 Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations refugee agency in Jordan in November 2016. Of these immigrants, 87 percent live below the national poverty line, which is equivalent to $95 per person each month. The average debt for Syrian households living outside refugee camps rose to $1,000 each by the end of 2016. In addition, 26 percent reported financial dependence on family members holding exploitative, high-risk or illegal jobs in order to meet basic needs. Education for Syrian refugees in Jordan is a failing system that needs adjustment.

The Syrian refugee crisis remains the most prominent humanitarian disaster in recent history. According to UNICEF, the most fundamental act for reconstructing a stable community is providing equal access to education for Syrian refugees.

Approximately 265,000 out of the nearly 660,000 Syrians registered in Jordan are under the age of 18. The U.N. reports that 97 percent of these children are at risk of not attending school due to financial hardship.

Jordan spends more than 12 percent of its GDP on education, yet the school system is still in need of financial support. The system struggled even before the influx of refugees from Syria.

Regarding access to education for Syrian refugees, the Ministry of Education has opened a number of additional school spaces and relaxed barriers to registration. Consequently, there are now approximately 170,000 refugee children enrolled in the current school year.

The Ministry of Education also created an action plan to open 102 additional double-shift public schools. Thus, the plan will accommodate 50,000 new enrollment spaces. The plan initiated a “catch-up program” administered through public schools. In addition, the plan will operate in conjunction with education ministry teachers and will offer informal education to 25,000 children between the ages of eight and 12. One thousand of these children have already enrolled.

The primary issues regarding access to education for Syrian refugees surround legal status and documentation, restrictions on business ownership and school dropout rates among migrant populations. The Ministry of Education seeks to address each of these issues through its reformed action plan.

To provide some support, UNICEF’s 2017–2018 No Lost Generation initiative promises to promote equal access to integrated child protection, education, youth engagement and livelihood programs. The initiative is meant to strengthen the quality of education for Syrian refugees.

Still, almost 91,000 Syrian children registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees remain without access to formal education. A 2016 UNICEF survey conducted within Amman, Irbid and Mafraq found that 10 percent of Syrian refugee families removed their children from school to save educational expenses. Six percent had sent their children to work, and three percent had their daughters married in childhood. Childhood marriages are a common occurrence because they help bear the economic burden and safety concerns associated with refugee status.

Without continuous interest and more equitable support from the international community, the educational situation for refugees will not improve. From healthcare and legal status to job opportunities and education for Syrian refugees, millions, including the internally displaced and host communities, face an uncertain future.

Jaime Viens

Photo: Flickr

Elementary school is a time that is remembered by new backpacks and the smell of fresh pencils and erasers. Small children proudly sport new outfits and seek out new friends in various classes.

This is the idealized picture of what a small proportion of the world’s children is able to enjoy. In war-torn developing countries, though, elementary schools look very different.

A recent article from The Guardian found that “Almost 50 million children and young people living in conflict areas are out of school, more than half of them primary age, and reports of attacks on education are rising.”

Multiple studies done over the years have found that when it comes to war, education is one of the first casualties. War and other such conflicts cause damage to buildings, displaced families, necessary certificates to be lost, and a change in priorities.

While this is often the case, new programs are springing up that provide access to school even amidst such turmoil.

UNICEF, for instance, has been working with the Ministry of Education to find solutions.

In an article focused on Yemen, the UNICEF site stated that they are, “working with the Government to help organize catch-up classes for those who have missed their education and encourage as many children as possible to return to school for the new school year.”

The combined efforts of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education have also worked to help children take exams that were missed due to schools being closed during the fighting.

War Child is another organization that has been working in several war-torn countries to improve education despite war and conflict.

On their site they shared, “In Afghanistan we’re providing education for the street children who use our drop-in-centres. We’ve also opened 20 Early Childhood Development Centres to provide 620 children aged 4-6 with a pre-school education.”

Similar work is being done in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Uganda and Syria.

These programs allow for children to receive the education that is needed to help end the cycle of poverty in these developing nations despite the negative impacts of war.

Katherine Martin

Sources: The Guardian, UNICEF, War Child
Photo: Google Images

Does your computer process slowly? Are you in need of new software? These are two common reasons why people dispose of computers and laptops. Although they are still in working order, they are tossed away in garbage bins. Is there a sustainable solution? Camara Education thinks so.

Camara Education is dedicated to improving literacy and believes everyone deserves quality education. They collect technology such as computers, keyboards, tablets and smartphones and donate them to developing countries. They hope that by improving education, these communities will be able to lift themselves out of poverty.

Founded in Dublin, Ireland in 2005, Camara Education has been highly successful. Because of their efforts, around 1 million children have had access to technology in classrooms. In the last 10 years, they have shipped 62,000 computers to countries in need.

The organization has donated eLearning centers to over 2,000 schools in Ireland, Africa and the Caribbean. They have installed 40,000 computers, trained over 11,000 teachers to use technology in classrooms and are currently in operation in Jamaica and seven countries in Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Lesotho, Tanzania and Zambia. They also have headquarters in the U.S. and U.K.

Camara Education believes that technology can open up an entirely new world of information for students and teachers. For this reason, they believe it is essential that all children have access to computers and information and communications technology (ICT).

This year, they plan to provide approximately 3,500 computers to students in Kenya.

“There’s no way the schools could afford this on their own,” Chief Technology Officer of Camara Education for Africa Aseidas Blauvelt says. “They could buy from their informal market, but they’d have no guarantee anything would work, they wouldn’t have training from us and they wouldn’t have a server.”

The team members erase all data from donated computers, keeping all personal information safe. The hard drive is wiped using a U.S. Department of Defense program, which makes it impossible to retrieve any data.

Recently, Camara Education has partnered with the Ministry of Education in Zambia to integrate technology and ICT into schools. On July 16, Camara Education in Dublin sent 1,110 computers to Lusaka, Zambia. With this new shipment, the organization has sent over 11,000 computers to Zambia.

CEO of Camara Education in Zambia says, “There is a strong demand from educational institutions for Camara services. Camara Zambia has been working with the Ministry of Education here to expand our reach to schools. The government this year added Computer Studies to the curriculum for grade 8 and 9 students, so there is much more interest in ICT and education.”

Ultimately, the Ministry of Education and Camara Education hope that the technology will teach valuable tech, communication and learning skills, alleviate poverty in Zambia and promote a prosperous and educated society.

Instead of throwing out old computers, visit to donate and find drop-off locations.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Camara 1, Camara 2, Camara 3, LinkedIn
Photo: Camara