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UNICEF supports construction of child friendly schools in remote areas

DILI, 16 November 2016: Community members and students of EBF Urahou 1 School in Hatulia Administrative Post of Ermera Municipality celebrated the first stone-laying ceremony of the new school building. Inaugurated by Antonio da Conceicao, the Minister of Education of Timor-Leste, this school is one of the five new schools including one pre-school which are being constructed with UNICEF support in Ermera and Ainaro municipalities. Desiree M Jongsma, UNICEF Representative and Jose Martinho dos Santos, Ermera Municipality Administrator also attended the programme among other dignitaries.

Highlighting the importance of active participation of the community in school construction work, the Education Minister said, “School construction is not only the responsibility of the contractors but the school committee, parents and community members should be vigilant to ensure the quality of the work and provide necessary support to the construction companies.”  He also appreciates UNICEF support as it helps the Education Ministry to provide children access to schooling in remote areas. 

Following the standard design of child-friendly schools, these schools will provide a child-friendly learning environment to around 2,000 students by ensuring toilets and basic facilities in the school building.

“Making sure that children have a safe and child-friendly place in which they can learn, play and grow with dignity is a commitment of UNICEF to Timorese families and their children,” says Desiree M Jongsma, UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste while attending the inauguration of the school construction. “This is why we are supporting the Ministry of Education to build these new school buildings and enhance the capacity of teachers and relevant stakeholders to make the school premises safe and child-friendly,” she adds.

The construction of these five basic education buildings includes three classrooms with one teachers’ room, one library room, and eight cabins of a toilet block for boys and girls as well as menstrual hygiene management facilities and provision of access to children with disabilities. The pre-school includes two classroom building attached with custom designed toilets for pre-school students one teachers' room with   toilet, a small kitchen, and storage facility. The total cost of the construction of all these buildings is approximately US$ 795,000, and is supported by the Japan and Korean National Committees for UNICEF. In addition to the school construction, UNICEF will also support the communities concerned with the construction of a water system, the creation of an open defecation free community through the implementation of Community Led Total Sanitation and a number other interventions, such as parenting programme, early childhood development, maternal and neonatal health programme etc that will help to create a child and family friendly community. 

There is ample evidence that provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools has an impact on children staying healthy, enabling them to remain in school and learn. The Education Ministry has already developed and approved WASH in Schools Guidelines” with UNICEF support which provides a basic outline on the minimum standard requirement of water and sanitation facilities in schools throughout the country. These Guidelines are being followed in the construction of the five new school buildings and the pre-school.

The Minister of Education, Administrator of Ermera and UNICEF Timor-Leste Representative also highlighted the importance of community engagement in the construction of the school buildings to ensure community ownership and oversight in school construction and management.

For Further information, please contact:

Ministry of Education, Government of Timor-Leste

Augusto Barreto, Protocol Director
HP: +670 7777 6409


Antonio Gomes, Communication Officer, UNICEF Timor-Leste (Tetum queries)
HP: +670-7723 2441 Email:

Arifa S. Sharmin, Chief, Communication Section, UNICEF Timor-Leste
HP: +670-7723 1103 Email: (English queries)




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