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MEDIA RELEASE - LAUNCH OF UNTL LIBRARY WEB SITE15 November 2002
MEDIA RELEASE The Real Timor Gap is in Education
The sad irony about the launch of a new Australian website devoted to the new Library at the National University of East Timor is that they can't see it there.
"Internet access is out of reach for them right now," says Judy Blood from The Friends of the UNTL Library who developed the website (http://untl.labor.net.au/). "They still need much more basic resources."
The website is to be launched at 6 pm on Monday November 18 at Gleebooks by Justice John Dowd AO, Chancellor of South Cross University, Judge, Supreme Court NSW, and Sister Susan Connelly, from the Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies.
The new site is an information resource about tertiary education in East Timor, but also seeks to raise much needed help. "It's not just about books on shelves, they are still rebuilding the library," Judy Blood said "They're working on the roof and the floor right now. In two years of classes, students have only had access to a library for 3 months."
After two stints as a volunteer, totalling 6 months at the University, Judy is uniquely aware of the problems and the opportunities facing this library, so vital to the reconstruction of East Timor.
The history of the country means there are few East Timorese who have the expertise to manage the rebuilding of a nation. Many people in positions of responsibility are very young - most are under 35.
The new website seeks help to develop continuing long-term support for the library. "We must aim for a self sustaining education system," Judy said.
There are simple but vexing issues just to do with language used in the classroom. Many older East Timorese learnt Portuguese (now the official language), the next generation learnt Indonesian, most people speak Tetum, and many are now learning English. "How many librarians face that sort of challenge?"
The 7 married people working in the library have 24 young children with another two on the way. "More than half the population is under 20, and if the recent population explosion within the library staff is any indication that will rapidly increase.
"There's an urgent need to educate the next generation", Judy Blood said. "We Australians need to provide long term support to create a truly self sufficient country.
"First we've got to teach the teachers, and that'll take skilled people, not just money.
"You can't send expertise to East Timor in a shipping container.
"The real Timor gap is the gap in educating the next generation."
For more information contact:
You're welcome to attend the launch: 6 for 6.30 pm, Monday November 18 At Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road Glebe
Ph: 02 9664 2541
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