Baucau, 16 December 2020
Visits to Baucau General High School 01, Kilik-Waigae Affiliated High School, Caibada Affiliated Elementary School, and Aubaca Central Elementary School kicked off President Francisco Guterres Lú Olo’s official trip to Baucau.
At these four schools, the Head of State was able to learn about their teaching and learning conditions, as well as hearing directly from their headmasters about the challenges that each school faces.
The headmaster of Baucau General High School 01, Paul Dias Ximenes, lamented the overcrowding in the classrooms, with about 50 to 60 students per class, as well as the lack of workspaces for teachers.
This school, which currently has a total of 1,838 pupils and 53 full-time teachers, decided to recruit 13 more part-time teachers, who receive a monthly salary of US$115 paid by the parents of the pupils, who contribute US$1.50 per month.
Paul Dias Ximenes said it was a privilege to welcome the President of the Republic and asked the Head of State to intercede with the government to build more classrooms and improve the conditions in the laboratory and in the library. The school’s headmaster also called for computers and the hiring of temporary teachers, as their wages are insufficient to cover their household expenses.
The headmaster of the Kilik-Waigae Affiliated High School, Januario Ximenes, also lamented the overcrowding of the two classrooms between which its 185 students are distributed. The 14 full-time teachers of the school took it upon themselves to raise money to buy bebak (palm leaf stalk) and wood to build an additional room in the market building.
At Caibada Affiliated Elementary School, built during the occupation in 1984, out of six available classrooms, only four meet the minimum conditions, despite some signs of deterioration. Aubaca Central Elementary School faces the same problem.
On the occasion, President Francisco Guterres Lú Olo stressed the importance of education for the development of the country and its citizens, pointing out that a high-quality education is the cornerstone of the development of the country’s – and its citizens’ – potential. Without knowledge there can be no freedom; and a people without freedom can become an oppressed people.
‘We have already made our choice, to live in freedom and following our own will,’ he said.
Addressing the students, the Head of State acknowledged that the conditions to ensure a high-quality education and effective learning were not yet in place.
The Head of State also stressed that it is equally important to provide suitable conditions to the teachers.
‘They need desks, lockers, teaching materials. Without resources, how can they teach? The President of the Republic has come to the municipality of Baucau to talk to local authorities and understand their needs in the areas of education, healthcare, and infrastructure. We must sit down and talk to find solutions together,’ he said, including the government and parliament in the process.
In response to the concerns of the teachers at Kilik-Waigae Affiliated High School, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport said that he would speak with the other ministers so that the problem could be resolved as soon as possible, and promised that the 2022 budget would include the rehabilitation of the school.
The school’s headmaster, Januario Ximenes, voiced the community’s satisfaction with the presidential visit and with the President’s initiative to learn more about the situation on the ground.