Creative home reading project

 In 2015, over half of Timorese were found to be illiterate. While the national education strategic planning investment is a top priority for Timor-Leste and in the first phase of education planning, the challenge has been to set a solid foundation for basic education (pre-school and primary school education). To support these efforts, MHI and partners have commenced delivering a number of projects aimed to increase literacy rates across the country.

In 2018 MHi and partners delivered a series of creative and educational workshops in Alieu, Bobonaro and Emera. The workshops included story time and creative classes for early primary school children, where children created illustrations for a series of four children’s books that focus on the content of four positive change messages: home reading as an enjoyable shared family activity; positive discipline for children; happy family relationships; and smoke-free home. Coinciding with these creative classes, informative workshops for the children’s parents on the health and wellbeing topics addressed in the books were facilitated by Simao Rosario and Afonso Soares (Ministry of Education staff and Deakin University Education Fellows). This project addresses several significant areas of development for Timor-Leste; low literacy for all ages; high rates of family violence; punitive discipline practices by parents and teachers; high rates of smoking, including in the home.

In 2019 MHI was sucessful in its funding bid for a DFAT Friendship Grant, offered through the Australian Government. The funds will support the delivery of a creative home reading program across the Lautem district.  The project will involve the creation, publication and distribution of locally produced, culturally relevant children’s books in national and local languages  Tetun, Fataluku and Makalero, and training for teachers, parents and grandparents in how to use them to read, at school and at home with children. The objective of the project is to increase literacy for all ages through increased inter-generational learning and home reading.​

The project brings together partners from Australia, Timor-Leste and New Zealand. From Australia: NGO Many Hands International Australian staff and volunteers, active in Timor since 2009; health promotion experts from Deakin University, Victoria; evaluation experts from the University of Melbourne, Victoria. From Timor-Leste: NGO Many Hands International Timorese staff; the Secretariat of State, Arts and Culture (SEAC); Ministry of Education; advice on educational issues will be provided by senior Ministry of Education staff Simmy Rosario and Afonso Soares as well as local representatives from the Ministry of Education in Lautem. From New Zealand: Volunteer Services Abroad volunteers with skills in healthy family relationships, counselling and creative arts therapy based in Lautem on placement with MHI.

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