UNESCO and Korean International Cooperation Agency launch US$ 2M project to strengthen math and science education in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste is a young country with great ambitions; by 2030 it aims to transition from a lower-income to upper-middle income status, with a healthy, well-educated and safe population. This achievement will require prioritizing education for the country’s young citizens, with particular focus on building national capacity in science, technology and innovation.

UNESCO and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have launched a US$ 2M project to support the Government of Timor-Leste to strengthen its mathematics and science education. Under the terms of the three-year cooperation from 2014 to 2017, UNESCO will provide technical and financial assistance to the Government of Timor-Leste to develop new curriculum components to support grade 7 – 9 mathematics and integrated science instruction, including teacher guides, syllabi and student workbooks. These materials will be piloted and finalized and the project will train all math and science teachers on their application.

“UNESCO proudly supports the Government of Timor-Leste to ensure that its citizens are prepared for the challenges of the future” said Mee Young Choi, Head of Education, UNESCO Jakarta.

“We are committed to supporting science and math education in Timor-Leste and to sharing South Korea’s experience in overcoming development challenges through high-quality education and sustainable growth” said Hyeong Cheol Kang, Representative of KOICA in Timor-Leste.

To initiate project activities, UNESCO sponsored a five-day training workshop in August at the Korean National University of Education (KNUE), in Cheongju, Korea, to strengthen the capacities of experts responsible for solidifying Timor-Leste’s middle school math and science curriculum. Fifteen education specialists were nominated by Timor-Leste to take part in the training, which covered a range of topics linked to the national mathematics and integrated science curriculum, as well as lab work, inquiry-based pedagogy, and visits to the observatory and stork habitat on the KNUE campus.

This project builds on UNESCO’s ongoing support to Timor-Leste in the field of math and science education. In 2013 the organization provided capacity building to trainers and teachers as well as supportive materials including teacher guides, encyclopedias and kits for chemistry and physics experiments.