The graduation ceremony which takes place at the ICFP Teachers College in February each year is an emotional and inspiring ceremony.
As at August 2023, there will be 1092 Bachelor of Teaching graduates, 210 Bachelor of Education and 20 Master of Education graduates. The graduation ceremony is so different to the many graduations that we have all attended where generally there are only 2 to 3 members of a graduate’s family permitted to attend.
Often a whole village attend the graduation. Some may have walked 4 hours to a bus stop and will spend 6 hours in a bus getting to the graduation. They dress in their finest clothes with many of the women wearing colourful skirts depicting their village colours.
The pride that the parents and grandparents have in their child graduation is evident.
The 2012 graduation ceremony was particularly emotional and inspirational, as are all the graduations since our first visit in 2012.
The big surprise was the attendance of General Peter Cosgrove who in his normal understated way slipped into Timor unannounced and when the attendees realised he would be there, the cheering and stamping started and continued unabated for several minutes. General Peter Cosgrove AC MC, is the hero of East Timor. General Cosgrove led the peacekeeping mission in 1999. The vote for independence from Indonesia had been successful but rogue elements of the Indonesian militia took revenge they destroyed all schools and public buildings, there were many massacres of innocent citizens. When General Cosgrove arrived with the Interfet forces they restored law and order and the people had hope for a peaceful future.
At the graduation General Peter Cosgrove had returned to Timor as Chancellor of ACU.
General Cosgrove spoke warmly to the graduates congratulating them on their hard work and emphasising their important role in molding the future of Timor.
The ceremony also represented many of the achievements of Australian initiatives in Timor. This was evident at the graduation ceremony where graduates were imbued with enthusiasm and hope for the future of their shaky new democracy. Many graduates spoke of the important role they see themselves fulfilling in shaping the young minds of Timor’s future.