Brazilian teachers are going to help restructure education in East Timor. The Foundation for the Improvement of University Level Personnel (Capes/MEC) selected 47 among a total of 17 thousand candidates to participate in the Program for Teacher Qualification and Portuguese Instruction.
Such program was established in an agreement signed by the Brazilian Minister of Education, Tarso Genro, and the East Timorese Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports, Armindo Maia.
"It is a teacher training program. The Brazilians are going there to train teachers to give lessons on Portuguese and the exact sciences - physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology - in Portuguese.
"The program will have a duration of 12 months," explains Capes general coordinator, Benício Schmidt.
29 of the teachers who were chosen left yesterday for East Timor. The rest will depart today.
The teachers will each receive a monthly subsidy of US$ 1.1 thousand. Their contracts will last 12 month, renewable for another 12.
They will conduct research and train teachers in East Timor, in addition to giving Portuguese classes in local schools.
According to Maria Luiza Carvalho, an analyst in the Capes general coordination office for international cooperation, one of the aims of the programn is to expand cooperation in the educational area between Brazil and East Timor.
Carvalho explained that this is a priority program of the Brazilian government, since Brazil has decided to provide support to Portuguese-speaking countries.
"At present, Brazil has as one of its goals to back Portuguese-speaking countries, and Timor chose Portuguese as the country's official language. This program will fortifiy and spread the mother tongue."
Carvalho also explained that East Timor is having considerable difficulties in expanding the country's school system, due to the lack of resources and teachers trained to do their job.
For this reason, she contends, the recipients of the grants will work at various levels of the educational system - in the university, in the Institute of Adult Education, and in the interior of the country - to carry out these training activities.
East Timor is considered one of the world's poorest countries. There are over 30 dialects. The country's official languages are Portuguese and Tetum, which is spoken by a large part of the population.
According to Leonardo Sakamoto, a researcher at the University of São Paulo (USP), Portuguese became a symbol of the independence struggle, because it was the language used by the resistance movement and was proscribed by the Indonesian government.