Subject: Indon teachers keen to go back to East Timor

Indonesian Observer November 28, 2000

Teachers keen to go back to East Timor

JAKARTA (IO) - Several teachers who taught in East Timor prior to its secession from Indonesia last year have expressed their willingness to go back to the fledgling country and resume teaching there - provided that the medium of instruction is the Indonesian language.

"The teachers have responded positively to the request of East Timorese educational foundations for teachers from East Nusa Tenggara," an elementary school teacher, Daniel Lengo, was quoted as saying by Antara yesterday in Atambua, West Timor.

West Timor is part of East Nusa Tenggara province, which shares a border with East Timor.

Daniel said the teachers in West Timor have adopted a wait-and-see attitude regarding the situation in East Timor, considering that the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPKF) are tentatively scheduled to leave the territory over the next two years.

"Many of these teachers do not want to be trapped for a second time in case civil war breaks out in East Timor once the UN leaves it," said Daniel, who taught in the East Timor district of Bobonaro for 15 years.

Ross Carvalo, who taught in an elementary school in the East Timor district of Viqueque, said the East Timorese administration should put in writing that it is willing to protect teachers from East Nusa Tenggara.

He was referring to incidents before East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in the August 30, 1999, UN-sponsored ballot, when Indonesian teachers were terrorized by their East Timorese students if the latter received low marks.

"We do not want the teachers from East Nusa Tenggara to be driven out by their East Timorese students," he said.

Ross also said the teachers should be paid at least Rp5 million (US$530) a month.

Data from the East Timorese National Resistance Council (CNRT) shows the former Portuguese colony has 13 kindergartens, 418 elementary schools, 51 junior high schools, 14 senior high schools and 4 vocational schools.

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