Subject: LUSA: Lisbon Minister Positive as Education Fact Finding Trip Concludes

24 Jan 02 17:38 East Timor: Lisbon Minister Positive as Education Fact Finding Trip Concludes

Portugal`s minister of education gave an upbeat assessment of his visit to East Timor Thursday, saying the present level of cooperation with the territory would be maintained.

Julio Pedrosa was speaking at the end of a five-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation and he highlighted the success of Lisbon`s cooperation program which, he said, was "entering into a new stage" with more direct participation by the Portuguese people. In the case of education, this was being achieved through the twinning of schools, he added.

Pedrosa told Lusa that his trip has been marked with "kindness and affection" and that there was strong commitment by Timorese organizations and leaders to education. He added that Timorese officials had been forthcoming with praise for Portuguese cooperation and the fact that Lisbon "always seeks to respond to the wishes and worries af the Timor administration".

"The job of cooperation between Portugal and East Timor is a successful one, it is work that our Timorese friends appreciate and one that honors, and is witness to the quality of our people", said Pedrosa.

The minister`s trip has served to reaffirm Portugal`s belief in the importance of education in the framework of Timorese cooperation. One of the main aims of the The Program for Cooperation with East Timor is backing the implementation of Portuguese, while it is the official language.

About euros 28 million are being channeled into these efforts by Lisbon, which is also currently providing 144 teachers of Portuguese in the territory. The number of Timorese in classes exceeds 42,000 and more than 3,555 Timorese teachers are enrolled in Portuguese classes.

CJB -Lusa-

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