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UNE lecturers assist East Timorese
February 21, 2006
The people of East Timor are still rebuilding their lives after the end of Indonesian rule in 1999 and many of them see university education as a ticket to a better life, according to a University of New England lecturer who has just returned from a teaching trip to Dili.
Education lecturer Greg Carroll and colleagues Glenda Kupczyk-Romanczuk and Laurence Tamatea spent two weeks at the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), assisting their Timorese counterparts in curriculum development and collecting material for research into education in post-colonial and post-conflict settings.
Dr Carroll was shocked to find that many of the buildings in Dili were still burnt-out shells, six years after Indonesian-backed militia withdrew, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Dr Carroll was also deeply affected by the stories of some of the people he met, including the matter-of-fact description by one student of the massacre of his family and destruction of his home.
Against this backdrop of devastation, Dr Carroll said he was inspired by the determination of the East Timorese students and staff to rebuild and carry on.
“They've got so little, yet they display an amazing amount of energy and enthusiasm,” he said.
A lecturer at the National University of Timor-Leste earns as little as US$50 per month. Books in the university library are housed in the open tropical air and in one literature class 43 students shared a single book, Dr Carroll said.
He said the people of East Timor placed an enormous value on education and young people had been clamouring to go to university since the country voted for independence in 1999.
“People see education as a way to improve themselves and their nation,” he said. “Some also see it as a ticket out.”
UNTL requested UNE's assistance on the basis of a memorandum of understanding signed by the two universities in 2003. A number of staff from UNE are involved in research and community development in East Timor, including Rebecca Spence, who is working on friendship agreements, and Bob Boughton, who is working on non-formal education. Several staff members from UNTL are UNE graduates, and Dr Carroll said UNE was viewed very favourably by the Timorese.
“Lots of people in positions of power in Timor-Leste know UNE and have a lot of appreciation for the work we do,” Dr Carroll said. “We were greeted very warmly and given support and access across the board.”
For more information contact Dr Greg Carroll on (02) 6773 4230 or Leon Braun (UNE Public Relations) on (02) 6773 3771. A photo is available to accompany this story.
Pictured: UNE lecturer Glenda Kupczyk-Romanczuk; UNTL Dean of the Faculty of Education and Science Miguel Maia dos Santos; UNTL Head of English Department Julio Sarmento Lopes; UNE lecturer Greg Carroll; former UNE graduate and UNTL faculty member Sancho da Costa Patricio.
Posted by Leon Braun at February 21, 2006 01:37 PM