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In Timor-Leste half the population live below the poverty line and, although education is the key to overcoming poverty, 60 per cent of Timor-Leste’s adult population are still unable to read.
Gaining an education in Timor-Leste is a big challenge, particularly as schools are extremely underfunded and poorly resourced. Teaching materials such as text books are in short supply. This means teachers are unable to deliver quality structured lessons and children are not learning at the reasonable level needed to go on to high school or university.
The Lafaek Education project is supporting the education of a new generation of Timorese children. With your support, CARE has been able to create, publish and distribute two editions of the magazine for Grade 3 and 4 students – Lafaek Prima – to more than 80,000 girls and boys. As the only written material in the national language of Tetun and the only publication that reaches every village in the country, Lafaek is a powerful tool that is improving education for both students and their families break free from poverty.
Lafaek Prima is tackling low literacy skills amongst Timor-Leste’s early to mid-primary school students, by providing relevant and engaging reading content distributed to all children at Grades Three and Four. The magazine builds on the literacy promoted in CARE’s early childhood magazine, Lafaek Ki’ik, and supports further development as reading and writing expectations increase.
The Lafaek magazines began as a child rights magazine, and our project continues to address the issue of child protection through stories and discussions in the magazine. Lafaek Prima helps create awareness about sensitive issues, such as the prevention of sexual harassment and abuse, and physical discipline of children.
We prepared all the content for Lafaek Prima in close collaboration with teachers, education staff and relevant government departments, ensuring the magazines are suitable and engaging. Each magazine is developed, reviewed and agreed by the Government Ministry of Educations, before being approved by an advisory board, made up of local education bodies, representatives from the New Zealand and Australian foreign departments and CARE.
Lafaek Prima contributes towards women’s empowerment through building girls’ leadership and decision-making capabilities. The magazine includes stories and features which show women and men, and girls and boys in non-traditional gender roles. The magazine published articles on history, science and Timorese personalities, highlighting the significant roles of women and the importance of diversity.
Stories feature strong female role models, showing women and girls as leaders and decision-makers, supported by men and boys at school, home, in the community and in public life. As an example, the first edition of Lafaek Prima featured a story about a disabled female character who led her team to win a drawing competition organised at her school. The second edition included the story of a school girl who leads her classmates to build and maintain their school garden.
Jacinta* is a third grade student in Timor-Leste who loves reading the stories in Lafaek Magazine. In second grade, Jacinta received Lafaek Ki’ik magazine, but was unable to read it by herself. Her favourite story in Lafaek Ki’ik was called ‘Asika the Pilot’, about a girl who flies planes.
With the help of her teacher, Lucia Ferreira Cardoso, Jacinta is now able to read Lafaek Prima on her own. Jacinta says she feels very happy because she can
read the stories by herself. She carries the magazines to school to read, and tests her reading skills with her friends in class.
Lucia says the magazines have made a huge difference to Jacinta’s learning comprehension: “At first, I taught Jacinta the letters, and then I taught her syllables and how to spell words with two to three letters,” she explains.
“The result has been very good, Jacinta can now read alone. I feel very happy when I see Jacinta reading.”
*CARE is a child-safe organisation, and the name has been changed.