At the end of the 1990s, half of the adult population was not literate or literate and school education was of poor quality. The violence following the 1999 referendum destroyed almost all schools and most teachers and administrators disappeared. In the reconstruction, the school system was a high priority and so has it been during the first ten years of independent East Timor. In 2007, a decision was made on nine years of compulsory and free education. In the state budget in 2009, 15.5% of the expenditure went to education.
|Land area||14,874 km²|
|Residents per km²||93|
|Official language||Tetum, Portuguese|
|Income per capita||6,000 USD|
|Currency||US dollars (+ own coins)|
|ISO 3166 code||TL|
|Time zone UTC||+9|
|Geographic coordinates||8 50 S, 125 55 O|
In 2009, 77% of girls and 70% of boys attended elementary school. However, many quit after a few years, especially in the countryside. After six years, just over half of all children in the lower, three-year secondary school started. Then follows a three-year, higher secondary school. The language of instruction is tetum for the first three years and is then widely used in Portuguese. Most schools are state-run, but mainly at the upper secondary level there are also private schools, such as run by the Catholic Church.
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18% of young men and 13% of young women are enrolled in post-secondary education, most of them at the National University of Dili. A number of smaller colleges are also available. In addition, there are state scholarships for higher studies abroad.
In 2007, UNESCO rated the reading and writing skills among the adult population (over 15 years) to 51%, but in the 2010 census it emerged that 79% of the adults were literate.