The choir of ‘EBC Palaban’ school in Oé-Cusse.
It isn’t all fun and games.
Blog by Roy Trivedy
UN in Timor-Leste
There is something uplifting when we get to work with students.
Perhaps it’s being a member of a family which makes us appreciate the gift of children. Perhaps we can remember our own school days, and all the times adults prodded us to ‘’tell us what you will be when you grow up.’’ Very rarely did I have confidence in my answer and now years later I am in awe of the opportunities I received over the years, which have eventually landed me here in Timor-Leste.
The school children of Oé-Cusse raised our spirits with their singing and hopeful faces when we launched a new information technology program for the region.
The students you can see in the photograph sang "Oh Timor", a song which speaks of being and feeling Timorese. It is a song to inspire and also represents Timor as a welcoming country.
It wasn’t all just fun but there were some games and our spirits were high.
The Regional Authority of Oé-cusse and the Government of India partnered with the UN in Timor-Leste teams from The UN Development Program and UNICEF to bring exciting new opportunities for five thousand students in schools in Oé-Cusse. The project will improve high school education by providing new information technology training and equipment.
Teachers will be trained to use the equipment to improve the learning experience for students.
This will be the first contact with technology in the eight selected schools and the others being visited each week by a mobile technology unit.
Students will learn skills essential for the modern world.
This schools’ project that is being implemented with the leadership of the Regional Authority of Oé-Cusse, will touch the lives of so many people, not just the students, but also teachers, and of course the families of children attending the schools.
It will reduce inequality between children of rural areas and urban areas, and also between Timor-Leste and other countries.
This is where the games came in – the project will help design and create Tetum and Portuguese language education games which will ensure that the children are having fun while they are learning in their own language. It makes learning more interesting.
The first two games are already being discussed and will focus on promoting financial literacy and environmental awareness.
Our lives depend on our environment. The technology project-games will include ideas about solar electricity, low cost heating and renewable energy.
Not all of Timor-Leste has reliable electricity and heating, but perhaps one day in the near future the students singing in the choir might be in the engineering team which transforms the lives of Timor-Leste people by providing cheap and reliable energy. And make no mistake, the teachers at Oé-Cusse told me that girls are embracing the new technology learning well and sometimes faster than the boys.
We can ask what they all want to be when they leave school, and if the answer is engineers, software developers, lawyers, scientists, chemists and geographers - we shouldn’t be surprised.