Quality Education

Realising rights to quality education for all children

UNICEF TL/2016/Helin


Only 20 percent of preschool-aged children in Timor-Leste are enrolled in school

In the short period since the restoration of independence, in 2002 Timor-Leste has made significant progress by completely rebuilding its education system. More and more children and young people are now going to school. Quality education for all is a key government priority. But ageing facilities, repetition and dropout, language diversity, weakened child-friendly teaching methods and limited facilities in rural areas hinder progress. 

Nearly 42 per cent of Timor-Leste’s population lives below the poverty line, and children miss out on vital opportunities for learning and empowerment. Children in rural areas are disproportionately affected. 

On average, one more year of education brings a 10 per cent increase in an individual’s earnings. Each additional year is associated with an 18 per cent higher gross domestic product per capita.

UNICEF’s work in Timor-Leste focuses on the most vulnerable people in the most disadvantaged areas, including girls, children living with disabilities and in rural areas. 


Why we need to make a change:

• Only 20 percent of preschool-aged children in Timor-Leste are enrolled in school.
• Nearly 37 percent of rural youth  (15-24) are illiterate, compared to just six percent in urban areas.
• Approximately 70 percent of grade one students don’t meet basic learning outcomes.
• 66 percent of basic education schools do not have functioning toilets. 
• 40 percent of basic education schools do not have drinking water .

UNICEF Timor-Leste/2018/ahelin


UNICEF supports the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports along with partners to develop key learning and teaching policies, standards and monitoring systems, and to strengthen planning and delivery of quality education services in an equitable manner. 


Policy development

In recent years, UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to establish the Basic Law of Education (2008), the Basic Education Law (2010), the National Policy Framework for Preschool Education (2014), WASH in Schools Guidelines (2016), and the Inclusive Education Policy (2017). UNICEF is currently working with the government to finalise quality standards for pre-school and basic education, and to finalise an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Policy.


Equity in education

To reach children in remote areas, UNICEF supports the Government of Timor-Leste to set up a sustainable model of community pre-schools as an alternative delivery mode for early learning programmes. We are also helping model a school readiness programme to help children in remote areas transition from home and preschool to first grade.

Parenting education sessions organised for community pre-schools are being expanded to public pre-schools. To ensure children in remote areas have access to quality education, UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Education to construct child-friendly school buildings with WASH facilities. 

Since 2009, UNICEF has been assisting in rehabilitation of classrooms, and construction of new classrooms and schools, to create conducive learning environment to benefit more students. In line with the community-led total sanitation approach (CLTS), water connections are also provided to schools 


Quality education

UNICEF supports the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to strengthen the quality of education and children’s learning using a child-friendly schools approach known locally as “Eskola Foun” or “new school.” This approach promotes child-centred teaching, improved school management, safe school environments, the active participation of parents and communities in schools, and the importance of safe, gender-sensitive and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools.

In partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and municipal authorities, UNICEF supports children and parents through the re-establishment of student councils and the support of parent-teacher associations. 

UNICEF also investigates whether children attending basic education are learning, through the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics initiative of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation.



UNICEF plays a key role in education systems as coordinator for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and as Co-chair of the Local Education Group, with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The National Education Strategic Plan was updated, an analysis is process. 

UNICEF Timor-Leste/2018/bsoares