6 Achieve universal primary education

Where we are?

 Schoolchildren from Suai on their way to school
Schoolchildren from Suai on their way to school. Photo: Sandra Magno/UNDP TL

While a 2008 national education law ensures all children below 17 years of age access to free basic education, people living in remote areas often find it hard to reach a school. In spite of these challenges, net primary school enrolment rose to 88 per cent in 2012 according to the Timor-Leste government, after fluctuating between 60 and 70 per cent during the past decade.

Other good gains include a rise in the proportion of children who reached 5th grade – up from 47 per cent to 66 per cent between 2001 and 2009.

However, Timor-Leste also has a high dropout rate among primary school children. Almost four in ten primary school children drop out before completing primary school.

The country has achieved solid gains in young adult and adult literacy. In 2007, the literacy rate among 15–24 year olds was 85 per cent, up from 50 per cent in 2001 Adult literacy rose from 36 per cent in 2001 to 58 per cent in 2007.

What’s needed?

  • Improve primary school facilities and relevant supporting facilities
  • Improve access to quality basic education in rural areas
  • An informal education policy to assist adults with literacy skills

Sources: 2009 The Millennium Development Goals, Timor-Leste, RDTL and UN; Millennium Development Goals 2010, RDTL, National Statistics Directorate, Ministry of Finance and ICF Macro, 2010; 2009-10 Timor-Leste Demographic and Health Survey: Key Findings, Dili, Timor-Leste, NCD and ICF Macro; Timor-Leste MDG-F Case Study Evaluation, 2012.  

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1.29 years
remaining
until 2015

1990 2015
Targets for MDG2
  1. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
    • Net enrolment ratio in primary education
    • Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
    • Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men