DILI, 22 june 2021 (TATOLI)– The representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Timor-Leste (TL), Bilal Aurang Zeb Durrani said that the problem of slow internet and electricity that has not yet reached all corners of the country are obstacles for the ‘Eskola Ba Uma’ program.

The ongoing pandemic has resulted in all sectors temporarily paused and it is included in the education sector. The government has imposed a lockdown so that every educational institution is required to stop the direct learning process and choose to go to school virtually.

The representative of UNICEF in TL considered that the condition of the internet and electricity network in Timor-Leste is a challenge for the government and partners to ensure all children have access to the ‘Eskola ba Uma’ program.

“This is the first step for this country to start exploring online learning, but of course we have challenges because internet connectivity, electricity is another challenge and a number of their households do not have TV,” The representative of UNICEF), Bilal Aurang Zeb Durrani told  TATOLI Journalists at UN House Caicoli, this tuesday.

As part of measures to protect children from COVID-19 and prevent its spread, schools in Timor-Leste were closed on 23 March 2020. Nearly 400.000 children enrolled in schools have been affected by the closure.

In response, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) quickly drew up plans to ensure children continue to learn. This includes strategies for using multiple communication channels so that as many children as possible are reached.

The resulting ‘Eskola Ba Uma’ or ‘School Goes Home’ initiative includes television programmes, radio programmes, e-books, the online Learning Passport platform, and printed books for children who are not digitally connected. Together, these initiatives are targeted to reach 350.000 children across the country.

“We use a lot of different channels, we have 83 episodes aired daily on GMN-TV and RTTL, Radio, Youtube channels, we also have online learning apps,” he explained.

The ‘Eskola ba Uma’ initiative was created with funding from internal UNICEF funds and the Government of Japan, the Ministry of Education and partnerships with Microsoft, Timor Telecom, Telkomcel and Telemor Timor-Leste.

This program is offered to 24.431 students and included 17.000 teachers in around Timor-Leste territories. UNICEF in coordination with the Minister of Education, youth and sport finding the proper data, for how many students are benefiting from this program and even for disadvantages for this program.

Journalist: Jose Belarmino de Sá

Editor: Rafy Belo

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