Língua e Educação em Timor-Leste / Lian no Edukasaun iha Timor-Leste / Language and Education in Timor-Leste


(Tetun iha okos)

I am proud to call Timor-Leste my home, and privileged to be able to play a role in the development of this young nation. I am passionate about advancing the rights of women and children, the most precious and yet vulnerable sections of our society. I come from a long line of teachers, and am a teacher myself by training. As Goodwill Ambassador for Education, I am motivated by the wish to see the children of Timor-Leste reap the benefits of a quality education such as that which I have had the good fortune to enjoy, thus enabling them to contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of their independent homeland.

As a student of and lover of languages, I have a profound appreciation of the role that language plays in defining us as individuals and as members of a society and nation. Timor-Leste is a polyglot society, and the majority of its citizens speak up to four languages, amongst which are included their mother tongue (one of some 16 national languages spoken across the country), Tetum (the lingua franca and co-official language), Bahasa Indonesia and Portuguese. Timor-Leste’s rich linguistic panorama has the potential to serve as a unique and precious resource for the country’s future, however, in the absence of clear policies, particularly in the education sector, which take into account best practice around the world and which are based on an honest assessment of present capacities, language issues stand to constrain children’s attainment of basic literacy skills as the foundation of future learning.

Current policy and practice in education promotes the use of the two official languages (Tetum and Portuguese) in the early grades, with Portuguese assuming the role of principal language of instruction by Grade 3 or 4. However, the current system does not support learning in a child’s mother tongue as Tetum is the first language of only a small proportion of East Timorese. Moreover, a great deal more prestige and importance is attached to mastery of Portuguese as opposed to Tetum in current approaches to evaluation of teacher competencies and in the design of curriculum and programs of professional development for teachers.

The lessons and outcomes of various local initiatives and of international studies in basic education have demonstrated the superiority of the use of a learner’s mother tongue or first language in improving educational outcomes and promoting Education for All. We know, for example, that children learn to read more quickly when they do so in their first language. UNESCO advocates for the adoption of Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education programs based on evidence-based research from around the world showing that children who have learned to read and write in their first language learn to speak, read and write in a second and third language more quickly than those taught in a second or third language first. A child’s cognitive, emotional and social development is also enhanced when he or she is educated in the early primary years in the language of the home environment.

The present government has achieved some important milestones for education, particularly in terms of the decentralisation of service delivery and the defining of some key policies and legal frameworks for the education sector (National Education Policy, Basic Education Act etc.). It has also instituted a system of 9 years free, basic compulsory schooling for all, a fundamental step on the path to Timor-Leste’s attainment of Millennium Development Goal Number Two relating to universal primary education for all East Timorese boys and girls. Nevertheless, the absence of a “Language in Education” policy which clearly and consistently sets forth guidelines for language use in classrooms in the first nine years of schooling, seriously jeopardises the Ministry of Education’s chances of delivering quality education to the nation’s children.

Just because Tetum is the lingua franca of the East Timorese national languages does not mean that our people automatically and instinctively know how to speak, read and write the language well. After all, only now in an independent Timor-Leste and for the first time in history are the citizens of this country being granted the opportunity and the right to affirm their unique identity through an embracing of their national language(s). I firmly believe that whilst Tetum and the other national languages of this country have no place or, at best, an inferior one in the education system of Timor-Leste, we are bound to fail in our duty to provide our kids with a vital foundation for their future learning and are therefore condemned to poverty as a nation.

The UN Secretary General’s report to the Security Council in February 2010 makes abundant reference to the government’s need to invest more in Tetum as the most important language of mass communication and as a symbol of national identity. The report makes the link between the development and promotion of Tetum and the government’s ability to deliver quality education to all the nation’s children.

The National Education Commission which I chair has established, at the request of the Ministry of Education, a “Language in Education” Working Group which will oversee the process of elaboration of a National Language in Education Policy by the end of 2010. This Working Group will work in close collaboration with a team of international language policy experts, and conduct consultations with national education stakeholders, including teachers, students and Ministry of Education officials. In formulating the policy it will present to government, it will take into account the work of UNESCO in promoting mother-tongue based multilingual education, and the findings, empirical research and recommendations presented to a number of national and international conferences, including the “National Conference on Bilingual Education” organised by the Ministry of Education in April 2008.

The Ministry of Education is to be congratulated for initiating this process of vital policy formulation, and I am honoured to have been entrusted with guiding this important work.

Kirsty Sword Gusmão

April, 2010


Ha’u sente orgullu atu bolu Timor-Leste ha’u-nia uma, no sente nu’udar priviléjiu ida atu bele hola parte iha dezenvolvimentu nasaun joven ne’e. Ha’u fó ha’u-nia laran tomak atu dezenvolve direitu feto no labarik sira, tamba sira halo parte husi ita-nia sosiedade ne’ebé iha valór boot liu, maibé mós vulnerável liu. Ha’u mai husi família ida-ne’ebé iha mestre barak no ha’u rasik sai nu’udar mestra. Nu’udar Embaixadora Boa Vontade ba Edukasaun, ha’u-nia motivasaun mai husi hakarak haree labarik Timoroan hetan benefísiu, husi edukasaun ho kualidade, hanesan ha’u rasik iha sorte di’ak atu hetan. Edukasaun ne’e sei kapasita sira atu fó kontribuisaun di’ak ba sira-nia rai ne’ebé ukun-an an ona, atu dezenvolve an no sai boot.

Nu’udar estudante no ema ne’ebé gosta liu atu estuda lia sira, ha’u apresia tebe-tebes funsaun lia nian atu define ita-nia an nu’udar ema no membru sosiedade ho nasaun ida. Timor-Leste sai nu’udar sosiedade ida-ne’ebé ko’alia lia barak, no sidadaun Timoroan barakliu maka ko’alia to’o lia haat, ne’ebé inklui mós sira-nia lia-inan rasik (lia ida husi lia nasionál 16 ne’ebé ko’alia iha rai laran), lia-Tetun (lia ne’ebé ko’alia loroloron no mós lia ofisiál ida), lia-Indonézia ho lia-Portugés. Timor-Leste nia kondisaun linguístika rika iha potensiál atu bele sai nu’udar rekursu úniku, ho valór bootliu, ba futuru rai ne’e nian. Maibé, seidauk iha polítika klaru ba asuntu ne’e maka konsidera esperiénsia di’ak husi fatin seluk iha mundu laran no bazeia ba avaliasaun kapasidade agora daudaun, liu-liu iha área Edukasaun. Tanba ne’e, língua mosu nu’udar problema ne’ebé hamenus labarik nia kapasidade atu hetan literasia bázika, hodi sai nu'udar fundasaun forte ba sira, atu aprende didi’ak iha futuru.

Polítika agora daudaun, no prátika iha edukasaun, promove uzo lia ofisiál rua (Tetun no Portugés) iha klase inisiál, no Portugés sai fali hanesan lia hanorin prinsipál, hahú iha klase 3 ka 4. Maibé sistema agora daudaun ladún fó suporte ba aprendizajen iha labarik sira-nia lia inan, tanba Tetun sai nu’udar lia-inan ba Timoroan balun de’it. Kompeténsia ne’ebé uza atu avalia mestre sira agora daudaun fó mós valór boot liu no importánsia bootliu atu aprende di’ak Portugés duké atu aprende Tetun, no situasaun hanesan mosu iha prosesu harii kurríkulu no iha programa treinamentu ba mestre sira.

Lisaun no rezultadu ne’ebé mosu husi inisiativa lokál balun no husi peskiza internasionál iha edukasaun bázika hatudu ona mai ita katak di’akliu uza maka estudante nia lia-inan ka lia-dahuluk hodi hetan rezultadu kapás iha edukasaun no promove Edukasaun ba Ema Hotu. Porezemplu, ita hatene katak labarik sira aprende lailais liu tan atu lee bainhira uza sira-nia lia-inan rasik. UNESCO halo advokasia atu adota programa Edukasaun Multilingue Bazeia ba Lia-inan, tanba evidénsia husi peskiza iha mundu tomak hatudu katak labarik sira ne’ebé aprende atu lee no hakerek ho sira-nia lia-inan aprende lalais liu tan atu ko’alia, lee no hakerek iha lia seluk (daruak no datoluk) duké sira-ne’ebé aprende uluk liu uza lia seluk. Dezenvolvimentu ba labarik sira-nia hanoin, kapasidade emosionál no sosiál mós aumenta bainhira sira hetan edukasaun iha sira-nia lia-inan iha klase inisiál eskola primária nian.

Governu agora daudaun nian hetan ona rezultadu balun ne’ebé importante liu ba edukasaun, liu-liu kona-ba desentralizasaun ba serbisu ne’ebé fó no atu klarifika ona polítika no lei ne’ebé iha ba setór Edukasaun, hanesan Polítika Nasionál Edukasaun nian, Dekretu-Lei ba Edukasaun Bázika, nst. Hahú mós sistema eskolaridade gratuitu ba tinan 9 no eskola bázika obrigatória ba ema hotu-hotu, maka pasu importante liu ba Timor-Leste iha nia dalan atu hakat ba Objetivu Dezenvolvimentu Miléniu Daruak, katak edukasaun primária universal ba labarik Timoroan hotu, feto ho mane. Maibé seidauk iha polítika ida kona-ba lia hanorin nian hodi klarifika no hametin matadalan atu uza lia iha klase laran, husi klase 1 to’o 9, no situasaun ne’e hamenus possibilidade ba Ministériu Edukasaun atu fó edukasaun ho kualidade ba labarik sira iha nasaun ne’e.

La'os tamba Tetun nu’udar lingua franka entre lian selu-seluk Timor-Leste nian, maka ita bele dehan katak ita-nia povu tomak hatene kedas ona oinsá maka ko’alia, lee no hakerek ho didi’ak ho lia ne’e. Ita mós tenke haree katak agora daudaun ba primeira vez iha istória Timor-Leste nian Timoroan sira hetan oportunidade no direitu atu fó-sai sira-nia identidade liuhusi simu sira-nia lia-nasionál. Ha’u fiar metin katak se Tetun ho lia nasionál sira seluk husi rai ne’e ladún hola parte ka iha fatin inferior iha sistema edukasaun Timor-Leste nian, ita sei hetan fallansu atu fó baze di’ak ba ita-nia labarik sira-nia aprendizajen no kondena nasaun ida ne’e ba ki’ak.

Relatóriu Sekretáriu-Jerál ONU nian ba Konsellu Seguransa iha fulan Fevereiru 2010 hatete maka’as katak governu presiza investe tan iha Tetun nu’udar lia importante liu ba komunikasaun ho povu no nu’udar símbolu ba identidade nasionál. Relatóriu mós halo ligasaun entre dezenvolve no promove Tetun ho kapasidade governu nian atu fó edukasaun kualidade ba labarik Timoroan sira hotu.

Komisaun Nasionál Edukasaun ne’ebé ha’u xefia simu pedidu husi Ministériu Edukasaun atu harii “Grupu Serbisu ba Lia iha Edukasaun”, ne’ebé sei tau matan ba prosesu elaborasaun Polítika Nasionál Lia iha Edukasaun to’o 2010 remata. Grupu Serbisu ne’e sei serbisu hamutuk ho ekipa matenek-na’in internasionál sira ba parte língua, no hala’o konsultasaun ho ema ne’ebé envolve iha edukasaun nasionál, inklui mestre, estudante no serbisu-na’in Ministériu Edukasaun nian. Hodi halo polítika ne’ebé sei aprezenta ba governu, komisaun sei mós haree fila fali ba serbisu UNESCO nian atu promove edukasaun multilingue ne’ebé bazeia ba lia-inan no mós rezultadu, peskiza no rekomendasaun ne’ebé aprezenta iha konferénsia nasionál no internasionál, inklui mós “Konferénsia Nasionál kona-ba Edukasaun Bilingue” ne’ebé organiza husi Ministériu Edukasaun iha fulan Abríl 2008.

Fó parabéns ba Ministériu Edukasaun tanba hahú prosesu ne’ebé importante liu atu dezenvolve polítika ne’e, no ha’u sente nu’udar onra boot katak Ministériu bele fó fiar mai ha’u atu fó orientasaun ba serbisu importante ne’e.

Kirsty Sword Gusmão

Abril, 2010

Leia este documento em Português:



"Lingua Sai Preokupasaun ba Professor no Alunos" / “Questão da Lingua é uma preocupação para Professores e Alunos” / “Language is a Concern to Teachers and Students” (Suara Timor-Leste, 19/1/11)

Related link: "Kalam favours imparting science education in mother tongue"

Portugues enquanto lingua materna pode acabar em alguns paises (artigo do Publico, Jan 2010) / Portuguese as Mother Tongue May End in Some Countries (Article from "O Publico" newspaper, January 2010)

Professores de Português em Timor-Leste (Blog): Um espaço para partilhar experiências e reflectir sobre o ensino da língua portuguesa em Timor-Leste.

"Improving Timor's language education", interview with Kirsty Sword Gusmão. Radio Australia - Connect Asia - 7 May, 2010.

Related link: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/201005/s2892985.htm

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