COVID-19 response

Allocation: US$3.5 million

Years: 2020-2021

Grant agent: UNICEF

Key documents:

The US$3.5 million grant will support:

  • expanding of distance learning through radio and TV programs called "School goes home" - using national and local stations and through an online platform
  • providing learning materials to children enrolled in preschool and basic education. Children with disabilities will receive audio and tactile materials; children from minority communities will receive materials in their local languages
  • preparing teachers for school reopening including setting up classes according to the new criteria – smaller classes and adhering to social distance guidelines
  • training teachers on how to deliver accelerated or catch-up classes and on how to assess learning more holistically
  • encouraging students to return to school, mainly through ensuring access to WASH facilities, developing tools to assess children’s learning and well-being, and promoting remedial classes for children with learning gaps
  • helping parents support their children’s learning, providing support on the use of non-violent behavior management techniques and on ways to deal with anxiety
  • revising existing assessment tools to evaluate learning gains and losses during the school closure.

These initiatives are based on the Ministry of Education’s COVID-19 response plan.

In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Timor-Leste received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education in planning its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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.

Latest blogs and news

Latest grant

Outside of their classroom, a few students of a primary school in Timor Leste smile. March 2013.

Outside of their classroom, a few students of a primary school in Timor Leste smile. March 2013.

CREDIT: GPE/Tara E. O'Connell
Development objective: improve the learning environment of basic education schools and increase the efficiency and equity of basic education programs.
Allocation: US$9,100,000
Years: 2020-2025
Grant agent: WB
Utilization: US$822,216

The program, named Timor-Leste’s Basic Education Strengthening and Transformation (BEST), is financed by an implementation grant of US$4.1 million and a Multiplier grant of US$5 million. US$2.73 million of the total grant are linked to results. The World Bank (IDA) is co-financing the program with US$15 million.

The program supports the implementation of the education sector plan 2020-2024 and has 5 components:

  1. Improve school infrastructure through the construction and rehabilitation of classrooms, schools, and the associated non-academic infrastructure.
  2. Improve teachers’ effectiveness by developing and deploying a classroom observation tool in schools across the country and increasing the share of basic education mathematics and language teachers in rural areas who utilize effective teaching methods, for example.
  3. Improve teaching and learning materials and strengthen students’ learning assessment. This will increase the number of textbooks per student.
  4. Strengthen the EMIS and personnel management information system.
  5. Build the capacities of Ministry of Education’s staff for planning, budgeting, and fiduciary management, by using EMIS data for the preparation of annual budgets and to make infrastructure investment decisions.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Utilization Grant agent  
COVID-19 2020-2022 3,500,000 1,487,085 UNICEF  
Program implementation and Multiplier 2020-2025 9,100,000 822,216 WB Progress report
Program implementation 2012-2015 2,537,205 2,537,205 WB Completion report
2009-2010 4,861,428 4,861,428 WB Completion report
2006-2009 8,188,095 8,188,095 WB  
Sector plan development 2019-2020 250,000 248,216 WB  
2016-2018 250,000 249,533 WB  
Program development 2019-2020 200,000 196,802 WB  
  Total 28,886,728 18,590,580    
Data last updated: March 17, 2023

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 2019-2021 period.

This builds on 11 years of Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) support to national education coalitions for their engagement in education sector policy dialogue.

GPE had provided the Civil Society Education Partnership (CSEP) with a grant from the CSEF to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.

Last updated September 11, 2021