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New books and creative teaching to improve literacy in Timor-Leste

Thousands of new books have been distributed to schools in rural and remote communities as part of a ChildFund project in Timor-Leste to improve literacy levels among young children.

The project, which is being implemented with Mary MacKillop Today, is helping to fill a shortage of reading materials in 12 schools in Liquica municipality, west of Dili.

More than 1,300 students from Grades 1 to 4 will be able to access the new books.

Seven-year-old student Jujunia (pictured below) is an avid reader and has been borrowing some of the new books at her school to read at home. “The books are helping a lot of children at my school to read,” the Grade 2 student says.

A lack of resources and poor quality teaching have long been some of the barriers to improving low literacy levels across Timor-Leste, with many children reaching Grade 4 and still unable to read.

ChildFund Timor-Leste’s education project is helping to break these barriers. “We’re working in line with the National Strategic Plan of Timor-Leste to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” ChildFund Timor-Leste’s Senior Education Manager Joãozinho Noronha says.

Teachers are also being trained as part of the project. They are learning how to implement creative and fun activities, such as singing, dancing and drawing, to teach literacy and numeracy, says Joãozinho. “A focus is to ensure children can recognise and sound the letters in the alphabet early on,” he says.

Teachers and parents will also be able to access videos on storytelling and literacy and numeracy to help them develop lessons for children.

More than 4,500 books have been delivered to schools over the past year.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Seven-year-old student Jujunia is one of more than 1,300 students from Grades 1 to 4 who now have access to new age-appropriate books in their local language, to help them improve their reading skills.

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