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
- Provide revised plans for utilizing school buildings and classrooms, and adequate furniture and teaching materials.
- Prepare and implement a strategy to stimulate public purpose partnerships for private sector development of new classrooms and school accreditation policies.
- Develop and implement a new curriculum framework.
- Develop new in-service and pre-service teacher training, and the recruitment or reassignment of teachers.
- Provide revised plans for utilizing school buildings to achieve equitable quality and low student/teacher ratio.
- Ensure refurbishment of school furniture and equipment to meet minimum standards.
- Expand social inclusion policy tools to ensure enrollment and retention including cash transfers, scholarships, and transportation solutions.
- Introduce accelerated learning programs to support overage students.
- Provide a comprehensive plan for infrastructure development for secondary and technical-vocational schools.
- Make formal linkages with industry and marketplace to provide direct experience in the workplace.
- Develop a program to retrain and attract talented teachers into technical secondary education.
- Develop and implement a new curriculum framework.
- 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.
- Establish the polytechnic system including defining purposes, structure, curriculum, and teacher training.
- Develop measures to increase student participation and completion of higher education.
- Increase the capacity of initial literacy programs.
- Continue with community-based promotion through the National Literacy Campaigns.
- Extend the utilization of television as aid for distance education through introducing literacy lessons and education programs.
- 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.
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The GPE program of US$2.5 million in Timor-Leste focused on strengthening the capacity and systems of the ministry of education. The project directly benefited the staff of the ministry of Education, with the goal of benefitting of the students and teachers in the education system.
The five components of the grant were:
- Strengthen senior and general management systems in core management directorates to support the implementation of the NESP.
- Strengthen public financial management and evidence-based planning capacity through providing technical support to strengthen policy and planning systems capacity, quality and transparent financial management systems, procurement and contract management functions, and monitoring and evaluation of the NESP.
- Support the capacity of the Basic Education Cluster Schools management teams through providing technical support in the development and strengthening of training modules, materials, and systems and procedures in the areas of school grants, school feeding, and learning materials. This component will also provide training to school directors and deputy directors.
- Strengthen teacher management through implementing and monitoring the pre- and in-service training program, supporting the management activities of the National Institute of Training of Teachers and Professionals of Education, developing evidence-based teacher policy planning systems, and supporting the implementation and monitoring of teacher training.
- Strengthen effective and timely monitoring and evaluation through providing technical support to strengthen the education management information system (EMIS), extend its coverage, and train offices in its use.
All amounts are in US dollars.
|Grant type||Years||Allocations||Disbursements||Grant agent|
|Program implementation||2012-2015||2,537,205||2,537,205||World Bank|
|Sector plan development||2019-2020||250,000||0||World Bank|
|Program development||2019-2020||200,000||33,432||World Bank|
GPE has also provided the Timor-Leste Coalition for Education (TLCE) with a grant from the Civil Society Education Fund, to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.
Education sector progress
The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Timor-Leste, and GPE data shows the country progress on 16 indicators monitored in the GPE Results Framework.
Primary Completion Rate (%)
Lower secondary completion rate
Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age
Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age
Pre-primary gross enrollment rate
Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary
Public Expenditure on Education as Share of GDP (%)
Students/trained teacher ratio
Teachers Trained (%)
Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.