Officials from Portugal’s department of education visited a Catholic senior high school in Dili yesterday as part of a fact-finding mission in their efforts to draft a national curriculum for Timor Leste. Eight officials, led by Angelo Eduardo Fereira, spent the day at Canossian Senior High School in Dili, discussing national education issues with schoolteachers. “We came to Timor Leste to observe. We will discuss what we have seen here when we return to Portugal and later send our findings to Timor Leste’s department of education,” Fereira said. School principal Canossian Sister Franceslina Ximenes Freitas said she hoped “the Portuguese officials could really see the realities in our current education system.” The school is currently using an Indonesian curriculum, introduced before Timor Leste gained its independence from Jakarta in 2002 following an UN-sponsored referendum. The nun hoped the new curriculum would not mean teachers and children having to learn Portuguese. “If we use Portuguese, it means teachers and students must know the language. Portuguese is a difficult language to learn, and time is needed for students and teachers to learn it,” she said. Leoneta Pinto, a Portuguese teacher, hoped the new curriculum “is relevant to real situations and issues in Timor Leste.” Canossian Senior High School opened on November 15, 1999, and has 716 students and 36 teachers, including four Canossian nuns. ET13645.1645
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