Increasing access to education and continuation

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and other international individual donors have a deep and long-standing commitment to supporting access to education for students in Timor Leste. Particularly concerned with addressing the compound disadvantage experienced by young women, the scholarship project especially focuses on young people from remote areas, single-parent or orphaned families, gender based violence survivors and children from large families or from situations of risk.

Overall, in 2017, the scholarship project supported 200 students enrolled in all levels of education from primary to university schooling.  This included 135 girls and young women, and 65 boys and young men. The males had been personally identified by individual donors for financial support which Alola managed.  With ongoing support from the Australian Embassy through the Partnership for Human Development, 38 young women from a mix of urban and rural areas were assisted to access universities in Dili and two municipalities. These scholarships have also assisted young women to be independent and strong in their decision-making including being responsible to their family and to serve their community and country. 38 students progressed their studies at universities in Dili and in two other municipalities (35 students in Dili, 2 in Oecusse and 1 in Aileu).

Monitoring indicates that most of the students are well progressed as seen in their commitments of study. In addition to conducting payments, the scholarship team improved the regular monitoring of students. Instead of just meeting with the students, Alola made direct visits to student’s homes in Dili and their villages and met with their families and teachers. The Alola scholarship team also arranged meetings of scholarship students together in order to update and share their experiences at different universities.

Alola has high expectations that the students will be able to achieve their dreams by completing their study and graduating from university. With support from DFAT and other individual donors in 2017, 16 Female and 3 Male scholarship students graduated, and it is expected that by end of 2018, 100% of the 30 students with DFAT’s support will graduate from university. Alola is also expecting more students will be graduating with support from the committed individual donors.

“Study hard and respect the family is a big value to gain a bright future. Although it must overcome many challenges but this is the result for me today that I can graduate from the university. The next process is to find a job to help my family and I am very keen to it.” Maria La’o explained. Note: La’o finished her study and graduated from CRISTAL University in Oecusse.

The Scholarship Project work integrated with Alola’s Advocacy Program and Maternal and Child Health Program and also collaborated with Gender team in Partnerships for Human Development and Marie Stopes Timor Leste to conduct training on Gender Equality, reproductive health and awareness on women’s cancer. The helpful information in this training was delivered to girls scholarship awardees. The project also continued to work with Alola’s Advocacy Program and delivered job readiness training to the graduates. Participants practiced writing their own CVs and application letters, and were supported in their job searching.