TIMOR IN THE EARLY YEARS
East Timor is officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco. In 1942 Australia sent troops to East Timor to stop the Japanese advance southward. The Timorese helped our diggers and 40 000 lost their lives doing so. There is no country in the world that lost so many people fighting for Australia.
Japan occupied East Timor from 1942 to 1945, but Portugal resumed colonial authority after the Japanese defeat in World War II.
The country declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975 and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of East Timor. During the subsequent 24-year occupation a campaign of pacification ensued. Between 1974 and 1999, there were an estimated 102,800 conflict-related deaths (approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 'excess' deaths from hunger and illness), the majority of which occurred during the Indonesian occupation. On 30 August 1999, in a UN-sponsored referendum, an overwhelming majority of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. Immediately following the referendum, anti-independence Timorese militias — organised and supported by the Indonesian military — commenced a punitive scorched-earth campaign. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forcibly pushed 300,000 people into West Timor as refugees. Directly after this, Indonesian military-supported East Timorese pro-integration militia and Indonesian soldiers carried out a campaign of violence and terrorism in retaliation. Approximately 1,400 Timorese were killed and 300,000 and forcibly pushed into West Timor as refugees. The majority of the country's infrastructure, including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, and schools, and nearly 100% of the country's electrical grid were destroyed. According to Noam Chomsky, "In one month, this massive military operation murdered some 2,000 people, raped hundreds of women and girls, displaced three-quarters of the population, and demolished 75 percent of the country's infrastructure" (Radical Priorities, 72).
The majority of the country's infrastructure was destroyed. On 20 September 1999 the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) under the command of General Peter Cosgrove, was deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end. Following a United Nations-administered transition period, East Timor was internationally recognised as an independent state in 2002.
Education is central to development.
Education empowers people and strengthens nations. It is a powerful “equalizer”, opening doors to all, to lift themselves out of poverty. Education, as identified by the World Bank, is critical to the world’s attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
As quoted from the Goldman Sachs Global Economics Paper No. 164, Education is the key to gender equality. Educating girls and women leads to higher wages; a greater likelihood of working outside the home; lower fertility; reduced maternal and child mortality; and better health and education. The impact is felt not only in women’s lifetimes, but also in the health, education and productivity of future generations.
Investment in education benefits the individual, society, and the world as a whole. Broad-based education of good quality is among the most powerful instruments known to reduce poverty and inequality. With proven benefits for personal health, it also strengthens nations’ economic health by laying the foundation for sustained economic growth. For individuals and nations, it is the key to creating, applying, and spreading knowledge - and ultimately to the development of dynamic, globally competitive economies. It is fundamental for the construction of democratic societies – as quoted by the World Bank
Education creates choices and opportunities for people, reduces the twin burdens of poverty and diseases, and gives a stronger voice in society. For nations it creates a dynamic workforce and well-informed citizens able to compete and cooperate globally – opening doors to economic and social prosperity.