Transforming education in Timor-Leste

The overarching vision of the government of Timor-Leste for the education sector is that all individuals will have access to a quality education that will allow them to participate in the economic, social, and political development process.

Timor-Leste has made significant progress in recent years, specifically in the number of schools and enrollment levels. Within 5 years, the net enrollment rate grew from 67% to 83% and gender disparity significantly decreased in basic education.

Despite this progress, Timor-Leste’s education sector still faces some challenges. Within basic education, drop out and repetition rates are high, while approximately half of six-year olds do not begin their schooling at the right age.

The National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) 2011-2030 aims to achieve universal completion of basic education, eliminate illiteracy, and ensure gender parity through priority programs, strategies, and activities in early childhood, basic, secondary, higher, and recurrent education.

The strategies highlighted in the NESP include:

Early childhood education

  1. Provide revised plans for utilizing school buildings and classrooms, and adequate furniture and teaching materials.
  2. Prepare and implement a strategy to stimulate public purpose partnerships for private sector development of new classrooms and school accreditation policies.
  3. Develop and implement a new curriculum framework.
  4. Develop new in-service and pre-service teacher training, and the recruitment or reassignment of teachers.

Basic education

  1. Provide revised plans for utilizing school buildings to achieve equitable quality and low student/teacher ratio.
  2. Ensure refurbishment of school furniture and equipment to meet minimum standards.
  3. Expand social inclusion policy tools to ensure enrollment and retention including cash transfers, scholarships, and transportation solutions.
  4. Introduce accelerated learning programs to support overage students.

Secondary education

  1. Provide a comprehensive plan for infrastructure development for secondary and technical-vocational schools.
  2. Make formal linkages with industry and marketplace to provide direct experience in the workplace.
  3. Develop a program to retrain and attract talented teachers into technical secondary education.
  4. Develop and implement a new curriculum framework.

Higher education

  1. Develop an inter-institutional system, establish a regulatory framework, and develop capacity building program to better manage, define higher education system, and support administrative services.
  2. Establish the polytechnic system including defining purposes, structure, curriculum, and teacher training.
  3. Develop measures to increase student participation and completion of higher education.

Recurrent education

  1. Increase the capacity of initial literacy programs.
  2. Continue with community-based promotion through the National Literacy Campaigns.
  3. Extend the utilization of television as aid for distance education through introducing literacy lessons and education programs.
  4. Provide recurrent education community centers in al sub-districts.

The NESP also details the specific results and activities within each sub-sector of education that will support these strategies.

Result story

In Timor-Leste, “school goes home” during coronavirus

School closures forced by the coronavirus pandemic in Timor-Leste have disrupted learning for 400,000 students. With GPE’s support, the government of Timor-Leste is ensuring learning continues during this unprecedented time, while preparing schools for safe reopening.


(data as of February 22, 2024)

  • Type: System capacity

    Years: 2023 - 2027

    Allocation: US$644,000

    Utilization: 0

    Grant agent: UNICEF

  • Type: Program implementation and Multiplier

    Years: 2020 - 2025

    Allocation: US$9,100,000

    Utilization: US$1,562,671

    Grant agent: WB

  • Type: COVID-19

    Years: 2020 - 2022

    Allocation: US$3,500,000

    Utilization: US$3,479,071

    Grant agent: UNICEF

  • Type: Sector plan development

    Years: 2019 - 2020

    Allocation: US$250,000

    Utilization: US$248,216

    Grant agent: WB

  • Type: Program development

    Years: 2019 - 2020

    Allocation: US$200,000

    Utilization: US$196,802

    Grant agent: WB

  • Type: Sector plan development

    Years: 2016 - 2018

    Allocation: US$250,000

    Utilization: US$249,533

    Grant agent: WB

  • Type: Program implementation

    Years: 2012 - 2015

    Allocation: US$2,537,205

    Utilization: US$2,537,205

    Grant agent: WB

  • Type: Program implementation

    Years: 2009 - 2010

    Allocation: US$4,861,428

    Utilization: US$4,861,428

    Grant agent: WB

  • Type: Program implementation

    Years: 2006 - 2009

    Allocation: US$8,188,095

    Utilization: US$8,188,095

    Grant agent: WB

Civil society engagement

As part of its investment in civil society advocacy and social accountability efforts, GPE’s Education Out Loud fund is supporting the Civil Society Education Partnership (CSEP) for the 2020-2023 period. This builds on previous support from the Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF).

Learn more

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