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East Timor outlines education situation to EDU Secretary-General

His Excellency Irving Levance, the Secretary-General of the Intergovernmental Organization EDU was grateful to be received by Her Excellency Mrs. Natalia Carrascalao, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for East-Timor in Portugal.














The daughter of a Timorese mother and a Portuguese father, who was in fact an Algarvian deported to Timor during the time of Salazar, she takes pride in her Luso-Timorese heritage, education and training which has prepared her superbly for her current role. Before becoming a diplomat, she served 3 terms in the Assembly of the Republic for the PSD.


The Secretary-General noted that Her Excellency Mrs. Natalia Carrascalao carries out her diplomatic duties with a striking elegance, poise and aplomb.

She was assisted throughout the briefing by the the Embassy’s Education Attache, Mr Joao Aparicio.

Many students come from East-Timor to study in Portugal and there is an established and well respected procedure for accreditation and equivalency between the former colony and Portuguese universities. Besides Portugal, Timorese students also study in abroad in Indonesia, Australia and Cuba: the latter specializing in health related education.

East-Timor is in a transition phase between the education system inherited from Indonesia and its own education system. A vital part of that transition is formal protocols signed with the Portuguese Universities of Minho and Aveiro.

The Ambassador is so dedicated to promoting overseas study for Timorese students that she has actually been known to personally welcome them on arrival at Lisbon International Airport with the sage advice: “The future of East Timor lies in your hands.”

















Primary and Secondary education in East-Timor is in place and is obligatory, with an 80% attendance rate and a literacy rate of 89%. It is important to note that some 61% of the population is under 25% and about 300,000 students are currently enrolled in education at some level. Education to the 9th Year is obligatory. The country has 2 official languages, national language Tetum (the lingua-franca) and Portuguese, with English and Indonesia widely spoken.

The Secretary-General was pleased to note that access to overseas education had not resulted in a ‘brain drain’ of talent out of the country.


As much as they enjoy their time abroad studying, Timorese students are always keen to return home taking their new found knowledge with them.

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Ambassador Natalia Carrascalao with students at Lisbon airport



Although the accreditation system in place means that EDU Accreditation would not be an especially compatible for the assistance of East-Timor, Ambassador Carrascalao was keen to point out that the general aims of the EDU of promoting education and cooperation internationally were very compatible with her country's policies and goals.

She declared herself in favour of participation in EDU and agreed to begin the preliminary process by receiving and sending the initial documentation, with her support, for full consideration.

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