The Timor-Leste Scholarship Program

The key to a future is education. It opens doors of opportunity and gives options to life careers. In developed countries, such as Australia and the United States, education is taken for granted. These societies accept the belief that children are to receive a formal education from the time they are three or four until they are eighteen. Many of these children will continue their education until they are in their twenties. Most of a student’s education is funded by others. Much comes through taxes. Some will come from the parents or guardians. In these First-World societies, the student is not held financially responsible for his or her education, until, maybe he or she is able to get a job and help with some of the costs.

Most First-World societies set aside youth for children to get educated. State and federal laws reinforce this time to make sure children are educated. The opportunity for a formal education is not just there, but it is expected and encouraged to be used by families.

This expectation to a formal education is not necessarily true for the children of Timor-Leste. Due to the poverty of many of the families, children are more valuable when they stay home and help with family chores. Many families cannot afford to send their children to school. This means that the poverty of the family is passed from one generation to the next. Without education, most of these children will not be able to move above the expectations of ignorance.

The scholarship program for Timor-Leste is not just limited to Whitefriars College. There are many people who have and continue to support the program over the years. The Carmelite parishes in Coorparoo, Queensland, Wentworthville, New South Wales, Port Melbourne and Middle Park, Victoria have been actively involved with the program for years. The Lay Carmelites as well as other friends of the Carmelites have also been involved keeping this program viable. At Christmas time, many families, rather than giving presents to each other, send money in for scholarships. This investment into the education of the Timorese people opens possibilities of a brighter future for not only the individuals receiving the scholarships, but the future of Timor-Leste in general.

If you would be interested in being involved, please contact Sean Keefe at:
skeefe@whitefriars.vic.edu.au