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First graduates from ACU Timor teachers course

A teacher training program in East Timor accredited by the Australian Catholic University has graduated its first group of 48 teachers as the country struggles to meet a need for 200 new teachers a year.

Bacau Teachers College, founded by the Marist Brothers in 2001 is the only dedicated, internationally organised provider of primary teacher education in East Timor.

According to ACU Professor Tony D'Arbon, students come from all 13 districts of East Timor and the college encourages them to return to their district and carry out teaching duties upon graduation.

"These beginning teachers are highly motivated and well skilled to share the learning of the three-year program they have completed at the college," he said.

But Professor D'Arbon says East Timor is still struggling to meet the demand for teachers.

"East Timor continues to struggle with teacher education as it is needing 200 teachers each year just for the primary sector. The current Ministry of Education is struggling to organise itself," he said.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Sheehan who was on hand to present students with their new qualifications at a ceremony last weekend in Baucau, 120km from Dili, said that "education is at the heart of nation-building and will lay the foundations for the future peace and prosperity of East Timor."

"Support for the Bachelor of Teaching program is a contribution from ACU National to Australia's aid program which focuses on building the capacity of the people of East Timor to run an effective, democratic government and administration," he said.

In addition to the 48 graduates, five other students received Certificates of Teaching and Learning, while another received a Postgraduate Certificate in Education Leadership.

The three-year Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) course is coordinated by Margie Beck, a seconded senior lecturer from ACU National's School of Educational Leadership at the Strathfield Campus.

Bacau Teachers College, founded in 2001 at the request of the Bishop of Bacau, now hosts about 150 students across three years of the primary teaching course.

First round of East Timor teachers graduate (ACU Media Release, 23/11/06)

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23 Nov 2006