Books for Asia in Timor-Leste
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.
Local Language Teaching Materials: The Asia Foundation and local partner Alola Foundation have been awarded an USAID All Children Reading grant to launch Projetu Apprende Labarik Le (PALL) or “Teaching Children to Read,” which will produce the first-ever authentically Timorese series of basic early literacy booklets for use by teachers and children in their mother tongues in three pilot districts. Additionally, PALL will involve working with students’ parents to familiarize them with the importance of continued education and academic nurturing outside the classroom.
Promoting Literacy and Reading: As part of its efforts to foster a reading culture, The Asia Foundation hosts an International Literacy Day celebration each year in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Alola Foundation, and educational institutions from around the country. The day-long festivities include reading and comprehension competitions, storytelling sessions, and performances.
Status of Education in Timor-Leste
Pre-independence negligence and damage incurred during the post-liberation period left Timorese educational institutions barren of resources and 90 percent of schools and educational facilities destroyed. Only 58.6 percent of the population of Timor-Leste is considered literate and more than a third is under the age of 15. The nation comprises 450 villages across 13 districts with poor infrastructure, no national postal system, and very limited access to print media, radio, or television. Most of the population survives on less than US$1.00 per day. English is spoken by a small percentage of the population (5.8 percent) but is gaining in popularity.
Books for Asia Timor-Leste distributes 30,000-40,000 new textbooks and general reading materials donated by American publishers annually to approximately 140 organizations across all of Timor-Leste's 13 districts.