Jesuit school brings education to East Timor

East Timor’s education system had been ineffective by decades of Indonesian occupation and centuries of Portuguese colonisation.

Timor Leste (East Timor)
December 03 2013, 5:26 PM
Jesuit school brings education to East Timor
Isaías Caldas (right top) and the students of Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola, East Timor.

Principal Father Plinio Martins and his dedicated team at the Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola, the new Jesuit high school in Kasait near capital Dili, are helping rebuild the nation’s education system.

East Timor’s education system had been ineffective by decades of Indonesian occupation and centuries of Portuguese colonisation.

Father Plínio insists on parental involvement as it is central to the success of the students and in making the most of the opportunities they have been given. While the school is able to provide heavily subsidised, high-quality education, it does not have the funds or infrastructure for transport.

“Parents gathered together to hire a big truck, and that truck takes the children to and from school every day. The mentality of the Timorese is this: they send their kids to a Catholic school and they think it is the responsibility of the priest to take care of their kids. I said, ‘No. It’s your responsibility, and we will help you’,” said Father Plínio.

“I hope to change the perspective of the parents about education, and their contribution to their children’s education - to change their life,” he said.

“I also hope we can form teachers who can really love this place and love to contribute and give themselves to this country, to improve the quality of education in East Timor. To bring people with capacity, qualified people, to become teachers, public servants, good leaders – that’s what my dream is.”

The school had admitted 86 students of class 7 in January and will grow exponentially over the next five years until it comprises a full high school complement, from Year 7 to Year 12, of around 540. Once the school is completed, they will build a teachers training college on the same campus.

“To have access to good education is a right. We are happy that the Jesuits are starting this school. The kids are very excited and their parents are very excited. When they look at our handbook and code of discipline some of the parents say, this is what we’ve been looking for,” said Jesuit scholastic Isaías Caldas, who teaches at the new school. Isaías has returned to serve in his homeland after higher studies in Philippines and Singapore. His attending St Joseph College, a Jesuit-run senior high school in East Timor, opened the doors of learning for him when most of his peers had no such luck.


Top Stories

Franciscans commit to explain Laudato Si’ to wider audience

Fr. Almazan tells his fellow Franciscans it is high time they share how they and their communities are trying to live out the ideals of their founder.