Entrevista a José Da Silva Monteiro (Coordenador da Educação Inclusiva) em Timor-Leste

>> 20090521

Nota pessoal:

este blogue é recente e pretende, fundamentalmente, constituir uma base de dados razoável sobre o processo de implementação e desenvolvimento de uma política educativa inclusiva em Timor-Leste (ideal expresso na Constituição e formalizado na Lei de Bases da Educação da RDTL. Dado o seu passado recente e sendo fruto de um projecto de investigação iniciado em 2008, é natural que se vão mostrando documentos, acontecimentos e entrevistas - como aquela que se passa a apresentar (2008) - com algum tempo.
Para facilitar a catalogação, este tipo de 'entrada'/'post' será assinalado cem 'Etiquetas'/'Tags) com a data original.
Finalmente, considero actual e muito pertinente no contexto actual a leitura da entrevista da:

EENET Asia Interview

"During the recent “Regional Preparatory Conference on Inclusive Education: Major Policy Issues in the Asia and Pacific Region” in Bali, Indonesia, EENET Asia met with Mr. José Da Silva Monteiro, the Coordinator of Inclusive Education for Timor-Leste to ask him about the development of inclusive education in his country. These are exciting and challenging times for Timor-Leste, an independent nation only since 2002, which is struggling to emerge from several decades of conflict. In the following interview Mr. Da Silva Monteiro discusses the future of inclusive education in Timor-Leste.

How did inclusive education come to be recognised as important for Timor-Leste?
This is our background, our country has been twenty-four years under occupation by Indonesia and before that, 450 years under occupation by the Portuguese. Many children in our country have not yet had access to education. My country is a new country and there has not been enough time for us to develop, especially in the education area. Now the question is how to develop inclusive education which involves many children; those that have not had education, children with disabilities and others that have stayed at home… how can they access education? So this programme is important now and the Ministry of Education in our country is strongly in favour of developing inclusive education.

What challenges do you have in terms of developing inclusive education in Timor-Leste?
The main challenges at the moment are lack of facilities and lack of human resources. In the future it will be how to organise the inclusion of all children in education.

What is the current situation with education and schools in Timor-Leste for children with disabilities and from different ethnic groups?
At the moment many children with disabilities are accessing school and education, but not yet all children. In the future inclusive education will be for all… this is good news for everyone.

You mentioned human resources as being a challenge. Were you talking about human resources inside the Ministry of Education or do you also mean the teachers that are working with the children?
I am thinking about human resources in terms of getting good teachers for inclusive education, teachers that know the best methods for the teaching and learning process. Also funding is an issue. Although I have many plans, I have very little funds.

Do you already have plans for training teachers in Timor-Leste in inclusive education…about teaching all children?
This we still lack. We want to develop these plans.

Are there issues, other than disability, affecting inclusion in Timor-Leste?
Language is an issue. The first language in our country is Tetum, the national language and the second is Portuguese. At the moment we are trying to improve Tetum for the future, as an academic language and for schools. Tetum is the most widely spoken language now and it is very strong, even ambassadors to Timor-Leste speak Tetum. In the Indonesian period we were using the Indonesian language, so everybody was speaking Indonesian, so there was good access to education. But now the big challenge with language is Portuguese. The teachers they don’t know about Portuguese, but now they have to train in the Portuguese language.

Are there big differences between access to education in urban areas like Dili [the capitol] and more rural areas?
The challenge at the moment is really for children with disabilities, especially transport for them. The other challenge is about the accessibility of school buildings. We had a meeting recently with UNICEF and I asked if they could please work with us together with the Ministry of Infrastructure because we need to improve school buildings to be more accessible to children with disabilities.

Has coming to this conference raised any particular issues for you that you want to go back now and consider in Timor-Leste?
I have heard many things about inclusive education here and I can take these back us to help us develop inclusive education in Timor-Leste. For me this is the first conference I have been to about inclusive education. In the future I really need more information and examples from other countries about inclusive education. Our vision is that by 2015 everyone will be able to access education and by 2020, everyone will be able to read and write. We are a new country, a small country, but we have plans for the future.

What will your role be when you go back to Timor-Leste? How do you see this developing?
After this conference, I’m going back to my country to plan how to take the data from all of our country…how many children? How many children with disabilities? When we have this data, we can involve them in inclusive education. We will not do something if we have no data. At the moment we are working with Plan Timor-Leste and EMIS [Education Management Information System] who are helping to advise our Ministry of Education. We will be working together with UNICEF, UNESCO, Plan and Friends from Australia to support the development of inclusive education. This is the main reason I want to visit other countries and programmes that do inclusive education already. At the moment, I have limited funds, but I want to see what methods others have used to implement inclusive education, to be our reference point.

Is the entire education system in Timor-Leste changing now, because it’s such a new country?
Yes, now primary schools, junior schools and senior schools are free. Also the public University is very low cost.

What about the curriculum, how much have you changed or reformed from the time of Indonesian occupation?
At the moment, we still have the books from Indonesia in the Bahasa Indonesia language. In the future there are plans to have books in Portuguese, but we also need to improve Tetum. But now, Portuguese teaching is starting in elementary school, but at primary school they can’t speak Portuguese. The challenge is that many teachers don’t know Portuguese and so how can they teach the children in Portuguese? This is a challenge … teacher education.

One of the most sensitive issues in post-conflict countries is the teaching of history. Is how you teach history in Timor-Leste changing?
At the moment they want to publish new history books for after independence, but we don’t have these yet. They want to publish the story of the struggle for independence and after independence in the Tetum language.

As the Coordinator of Inclusive Education is such a new role, how will you be working with people in other areas of the Ministry of Education? How do you plan to cooperate between what you do and what your other colleagues do?
At the moment we have my director general and I coordinate with him and then other stakeholders like UNICEF and UNESCO and Plan Timor-Leste and Friends from Australia … this is our partnership.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your plans for inclusive education in Timor-Leste?
I have such a strong desire to develop inclusive education in Timor-Leste not just for the disabled, but for all. My plans for the future are also about how to include children who can’t access education because of economic reasons. Our country is a new country and we want our students to be thinking about how to develop our country for the future … we can not just sit and be quiet … we have to do something. Right or wrong, we need to learn." (
EENET asia Newsletters : Sixth issue 2nd and 3rd Quarter 2008)

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