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Speech by Ms Sonya da Costa during launch of the Timor-Leste National Human Development Report 2018 at Dili Convention Centre, 03 April 2018

Timor-Leste is the youngest nation in the Asia-Pacific Region with a population characterized as one of the most youthful in the world. Most of the youth lack education, even after completing high school and university, because we still lack quality non-formal education.

Many Timorese youth have very few of the skills and knowledge required to find jobs. They mostly lack personal motivationto learn and attend non-formal trainings, and therefore the unemployment rate is increasing up to 11% because these groups are unable to meet criteria offered by employers. The question is, why do we focus on youth? We know that youth are key to development.

From my personal experience, although I am studying at the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), I still use my time to do volunteer work with the Youth Leadership Development Program (YLDP-TL). Initially I joined to build my leadership knowledge and skills. I have it! Now, I am supporting YLDP organizing leadership trainings for other youth to prepare themselves to be good leaders in the future. Besides that, I also work as a barista in Letefoho Specialty coffee roaster but can still manage my time to do volunteer work and study.

I am proud to stand here tonight, for the launch of the 2018 Timor-Leste National Human Development Report (NHDR) representing all Timorese youth to share a call with the government to improve the quality of education. Improving the education system will also help to reduce the number of uneducated youth such as those sitting on the streets. We talked about agriculture. Food is a source of life and we need more employment in agriculture and horticulture to feed our communities. Nevertheless, we need to increase more quality of health service, and expand health campaign awareness to minimize early marriage.

I would like to take this opportunity to appeal also to fellow Timorese youth to give value to volunteer work and increase their professional capacity. It is a noble work to learn about human values and build Timor-Leste. Stay positive in what you are committed to and what you passionate in. Create new ideas and be an initiator to lead activities to support communities and other youth in rural areas, help children, and share your experiences with youth that still lack of information.

As John F. Kennedy said, “Don’t ask what the nation will give to you but ask to yourself what you will give to the nation”. Therefore, to conclude, I encourage everyone in this room, particularly Timorese youth to take every learning opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills. Timor-Leste needs us with creative minds and professional hands. Thank you.

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