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The teachers’ College in Baucau

24/04/2007: East Timor

The college, ICFP, has 150 students now. They come from every district across the country. This means that when they finish their training, they will return to their homes and help to build up the education system for the whole nation.

Those of us internationals who work with them are very proud of this fact - 50 new teachers each year who are very competent and committed to their careers! Though this is, in the big picture, just a drop in the ocean of need in the country we keep reminding ourselves that over the coming years the Institute will be able to make a long lasting contribution to the country.

The donations we receive help to support the students while they are studying. It is extremely difficult for most families to send to and support their young people in Baucau for three years. The majority of families in East Timor live in villages at subsistence level and have no money to support their children while they are away from home, so the financial support we give to the students makes it possible for them to concentrate on their studies without having to worry where the next meal will come from! The allowance system is not extravagant, but covers basic living requirements.

The money is divided up on a needs basis - married students with a fami1y to support receive the most, while the young students who live in Baucau with their families get enough to cover transport, photocopying, and a few dollars for personal purchases such as computer disks, paper etc. The month1y allowance is from $US20 a month (and includes rental costs) down to $US5 for married women and Baucau residents.
Tuition fees make up other aspects of the full bursary some donors offer.

Last year the College introduced a lunch time voucher system for the first year students and with this years intake, 100 students receive l0, 50c vouchers each every month as part of their allowance. The purpose of this is to build up students health so as to lower the number of colds, influenza, and general malaise that occurs when students are under stress with assignments. We organised with a local restaurant to supply basic but nutritious meals for 50c each - the students work with a voucher system to receive the meal, and then the restaurant is reimbursed by the College. Up to 60 students are now meeting there each day and the number of absences is gradually decreasing as their health improves. Again, it is because of the support that we receive from Australia that such a project becomes possible.

Next semester, we will be trialling a new meal system, with local women preparing meals and serving them in the student recreation area between 11.30 and 1.30 each day. This is to encourage even more students to take advantage of cheap and nutritious meals that will be served in the centre of the College - there will be no need for students to walk to the local restaurant. With the library and the computer room open through the lunch break, students will be able to use their free time more constructively.
Margie Beck, Deputty Director
Marist Newsletter – Province of Melbourne (April 2007)

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