Building community preschools in Timor-Leste
Early childhood education is a pivotal moment in a child’s development. Attending preschool can boost their literacy and numeracy skills, as well as their social skills. They learn to draw, sing, dance and play with their peers.
But unfortunately for some children who live in rural Timor-Leste, distance makes it almost impossible for them to attend preschool. One community, Caicasavou in Liquica is perched on top of a mountain, and can only be accessed through one rocky, rough road.
ChildFund Timor-Leste worked with local partners to establish ten community preschools, in Lautem and Liquica, so that children aged three to five can access early education. One of the new preschools is in Caicasavou. Now, in Timor-Leste attending preschool has become a prerequisite for children to be accepted into Primary school.
Sebastiao, 48-years-old, is the president of a school management committee in Caicasavou. He led the construction of the classrooms and made sure they were ready for use.
“Here we have many children below the age of five and before now there was no preschool. When we heard about the plan to build a preschool here, we worked with the local authorities to construct this building so our children and grandchildren can enroll and study here,” said Sebastião.
Sebastiao also shared that he was happy to have the opportunity to work on the school.
One young teacher, Ronia, is excited about the new preschool. “It is important to have preschool in our village because oftentimes children repeat class because they did not go through preschool.”
When they started building the preschool, ChildFund worked to encourage local parents to be involved so they could learn about the importance of early childhood education. “Parents are more aware of the importance of preschool and now they bring their children to the school,” she said.
Ronia attended training by the Ministry of Education’s National Institute for Training of Teachers and Education Professionals to learn more about lesson planning, class management, leading group activities and other skills to support her in becoming a better teacher.
As a father, Pedro is happy to have a preschool near his home.
“My son now goes to school here. I don’t mind walking him here every day to come and learn because we finally have a preschool and a teacher that can teach our children,” he said.
Sebastiao is hopeful that the school will benefit children in the future. “I feel happy because this school is now helping more children to attend primary school,” he said.
ChildFund continues to support these communities and school management committees. This project is funded by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ANCP and implemented by ChildFund, with support from the Ministry of Education’s National Institute for Training of Teachers and Education Professionals (INFORDEPE) for teacher training.