Subject: LUSA: Brazil to send university students to teach Portuguese

27-12-2002 16:30:00. Notícia nº 4489928

East Timor: Brazil to send university students to teach Portuguese

Sao Paulo, Dec. 27 (Lusa) - Brazilian university students are to be sent to East Timor to teach Portuguese to Timorese children, the "Estado de Sao Paulo" daily reported Friday.

Final year students on arts and teaching courses at Sao Paulo University will spent six months in Timor, receiving traveling expenses and about USD 200 monthly. They will live with Timorese families or in hostels.

A Brazilian Foreign Ministry representative and former ambassador to Indonesia, Jadiel Ferreira de Almeida, was cited by the newspaper as saying that "the preservation of Timor's identity rests with Portuguese and only Brazil and Portugal can help with this".

"Timor asked us for this help many years ago and we weren't in a position to answer the call", said Almeida, adding that the program would be financed by the United Nations and Brazilian companies.

Almeida said Brazil wanted to prevent Timor being too dependent on neighboring countries, such as Australia, which is keen to push English as an official language - in addition to Tetum and Portuguese.

To begin with, a group of 20 students will be sent to Timor and this number will be raised at a later date.

An administrator responsible for international cooperation at Sao Paulo University said the teaching program could be widened to include the health and agriculture sectors.

There will be a meeting next year between the foreign ministry and university to evaluate the initiative, the university administrator told Estado de Sao Paulo.

East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao visited Sao Paulo University on his first official trip to Brazil.

ES/CJB -Lusa-

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