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New PM will put education first

Gusmao promises better schooling and infrastructure

President Taur Matan Ruak, center, at the swearing-in of the new government yesterday (Photo by Thomas Ora) President Taur Matan Ruak, center, at the swearing-in of the new government yesterday (Photo by Thomas Ora)
  • Thomas Ora, Dili
  • Timor Leste
  • August 9, 2012
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Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said his newly elected government will prioritize education and infrastructure during its five-year term.

Speaking at yesterday's swearing-in of the fifth constitutional government, he said the previous administration was criticized for failing to meet the basic needs of the population.

“I promise to bring the country forward with new breakthroughs so that all people of Timor Leste can be served,” Gusmao said.

Gusmao's National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction Party will now head the coalition government following a general election in July.

Bendito Freitas, the new education minister, expressed his readiness to work together with the new prime minister in developing the education sector, which he said was key to national development.

“Our priority is to find a solution to the … lack of schools and of curriculum and professionalism among teachers,” he said, adding that increased funding for education would be vital to such progress.

President Taur Matan Ruak acknowledged the uphill challenge in improving the country’s education system, saying during yesterday’s ceremony that many schools in rural areas operated with almost no equipment and teachers worked largely on their own.

“This country has almost no textbooks or other teaching materials,” he said.

Ruak added that existing infrastructure including roads and irrigation networks have badly deteriorated.

“The maintenance is poor in quality or even doesn’t exist in many parts of the country. We must move decisively toward the construction of high quality national infrastructure,” he said.

“Together we will make Timor Leste stronger, richer and safer.”

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