Subject: AGE: Victorian teachers may help in Timor

The Age Victorian teachers may help in Timor 
By MARK DODD 2000-08-14 18:58:07

Victorian teachers may help East Timor rebuild its shattered education system.

State Education Minister Mary Delahunty met independence leader Jose "Xanana" Gusmao and East Timor's new education minister, Fr Filomeno Jacob, at the weekend.

She said Victoria was considering education aid to East Timor such as teacher training, school equipment and "twin school relationships". She said her department would examine ways to help the country rebuild its secondary education system.

"Lots of our schools, lots of our parents, lots of our teachers are saying `how can we help East Timor?' and the `twin schools (sponsorship) arrangement' could be a very practical test," she said.

"We'll be looking at bringing teachers down to Victoria for parts of the curriculum training that they think might be relevant to their education system."

East Timor teacher training could start early next year, she said.

East Timor's secondary school system is in ruins. Pro-Indonesian militias torched school buildings and looted equipment during last year's political violence. Most teachers were Indonesian and have fled the country.

"It reminds me of what I saw in El Salvador," Ms Delahunty said. "Although the devastation I saw there was as a result of war, here it was systematic, planned vengeance and I find that quite shocking."

In another move involving Australia and the emerging nation, Tasmanian consulting engineers Pitt and Sherry have signed the first joint-venture agreement with an East Timorese counterpart. The agreement was hailed by the pro-independence National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) as a model for foreign investors and a boost for training opportunities for Australian engineers.

Senior CNRT official Joao Goncalves praised the agreement as the type of foreign investment that could be entitled to tax breaks when the territory gains full independence within two years.

"I think these type of joint ventures are very important and I can say the benefits for our people include training and skills," he said. 

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