Dili, September 13, 2011 — On September 8, 2011, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program celebrated International Literacy Day by hosting a book fair at the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport’s office in Bidau Licidere. The Foundation distributed 4,000 books, which had been donated by major U.S. book publishers, including McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and John Wiley and Sons. The donated books cover a broad range of subjects, such as education, health, law, government, science and technology, as well as the social sciences.
“Education is the core value of human development; education enables people to free themselves from social oppression and progressing in a productive life. The government of Timor-Leste has made a strong commitment to eradicate illiteracy and is working hard toward ensuring everyone is literate and educated. Free education is provided to public schools, at both the primary and secondary levels; however, improving and strengthening the quality of good education is a daunting task and a challenge to our nation. International Literacy Day, is a wake-up call to redouble our commitment to provide good quality education for all Timorese,” explained Nobel Peace Laureate and President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Dr. José Ramos-Horta.
International Literacy Day promotes literacy in Timor-Leste— one of the major goals of Books for Asia. According to the United Nations Development Programme’s 2010 Human Development Index, approximately 50 percent of Timor-Leste’s population is illiterate, due to lack of public libraries and limited access to reading materials.
“Education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and is essential for sustained economic growth. The Asia Foundation is committed to assisting the people of Timor-Leste to be literate, knowledgeable and skilled,” said Silas Everett, Country Representative, The Asia Foundation in Timor-Leste.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports, Saint Joseph College, the Alola Foundation, and Timor Aid also collaborated on the event, which was open to schools, universities, communities, and the general public on September 8, 2011.
The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program began operating in Timor Leste in 2004, and has since donated more than 100,000 books to schools, libraries, nongovernmental organizations and public-sector agencies throughout the country.