Portugal to invest 15 million euros over two years for Portuguese education in East Timor

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

There are also a few articles over the past few days in Portuguese on teaching Portuguese in East Timor. While some see having Portuguese as an official language as a ridiculous idea for a nation like East Timor considering its geographic position and poverty, it's actually a good idea, and here's why. There are two official languages there (Portuguese and Tetum) as well as two other working languages (English and Indonesian). English is spoken by so many countries as an official language that having it as a working language doesn't bring any attention to the country at all, and Indonesian is a necessity considering that Indonesia is right next to East Timor and so much bigger. Tetum, of course, is the local language and makes sense. But Portuguese is the only major language of the three that actually attracts attention and investment of this type, and a connection to a larger sphere of influence can only be a good thing for a country this small.

Now to the articles. Article 1:
Portugal will invest 15 million euros over 2010 and 2011 for the defense and promotion of the Portuguese language in Timor-Leste (East Timor), said Lusa Manuel Correia, the president of the Portuguese Institute for Development Support (Instituto Português de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento, IPAD) today.
15 million euros over two years is about $10 million US per year. Compared to this the yearly GDP of the entire country is just $500 million.

According to article 2, about 30% to 40% of the population is involved in learning Portuguese due to its relative youth. East Timor has been independent since 2002, and according to the article the phasing in of Portuguese began in 2000. There is still a long way to go though, as 85% of the 12000 teachers in the country only have a basic knowledge of Portuguese and so the government is investing heavily in teacher training over the next three to five years in order to be able to use Portuguese as a language of instruction. It also mentions (among other things) that there are 120 teachers from Portugal who teach in 13 districts throughout the country.

Article 3 is similar to #2, but feel free to take a look at it if you read read Portuguese.

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