03 September 2009

Norwegian Refugee Council provides school construction and teacher training in 30 villages in East Timor



NRC 03 September 2009 - The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Culture of Timor-Leste has recently started the basic construction of 30 rural schools. In addition, NRC will run a site based in-service teacher training in each of these schools, further enhancing the learning capacity of children in rural areas.

This project is possible trough the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is providing a grant of USD 2.7 million, funding the works in these 30 schools in the most rural areas of Manatuto and Ermera.

“We know that education is important for the future of Timor-Leste, for the economy and for social stability. Norway is happy to be able to support this project,” says Ambassador Eivind S. Homme.

“NRC has been working closely with the Ministry of Education and Culture from day one of this project. The idea is to do rehabilitation or do basic construction of schools in those areas where the MoE will not have the capacity to reach in the next few years”, explains Alfredo Zamudio, Country Director of NRC in Timor-Leste.

Since gaining independence in 2002, after 24 years of Indonesian occupation, Timor-Leste was again hit by a wave of violence in 2006, when more than 100,000 people were displaced. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, Timor-Leste has a weak infrastructure, with poor access roads to rural areas. Villages may be isolated for weeks at time during the rainy season. Two years after the violence of 2006, the situation is now stable and slowly coming back to normal.

Since its establishment in the country in November 2006, NRC has built 595 transitional shelters, and done the camp management for these sites, thus contributing substantially to the movement of the most precarious tented camps. In addition and in an effort to increase social cohesion in areas of return, NRC has also constructed and developed a Youth Education Program (YEP) with more than 200 youth attending training at this moment. NRC has also rehabilitated a health clinic in Dili and rehabilitated five offices for the government’s dialogue team.
According to NRC, having this capacity in-country made it easier to accept this huge logistical challenge.

“For the school project, we are only working in two districts, although the needs are all over the country. On the practical side, it can’t be said clearly enough that we are running against the clock, trying to do as much as possible before the rainy season makes things twice as difficult. Everyone is doing their best, the communities, the traders, national and local authorities; it is a good thing to see how good people are working together on this project,” says Alfredo Zamudio.

“Many years ago, when Norway gave the Nobel Peace Prize to José Ramos-Horta and bishop Belo, we hoped that it would help Timor-Leste to be a country in peace, with development and social justice. Although the road may be long, I am happy to see how Norway also through this project is walking together with the people of Timor-Leste” says Norwegian Special Envoy to Timor-Leste, bishop Gunnar Stalsett.

For online version and photos:

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/nrc/125189726199.htm

Media Contact:
Alfredo Zamudio, NRC Country Director
E-mail: c-director@easttimor.nrc.no
Phone: +(670) 733-0059

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