"Despite the fact that the country is progressing slowly, being the future leader of this country, I am always optimistic about the future of my country. I am a strong believer in the direction this country is heading towards.”
Dili, 17 May, 2007--- As the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the country’s Independence Day is getting near, young Timorese are expressing their optimism for the future of the country despite the fact that the country is still recovering from last year’s violence.
Nino Koni Santana High School is situated in the coffee growing district of Gleno. Gleno is about 50 kilometers southwest of Dili or one hour’s drive from Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. The population of Gleno is around 4,000 people.
In Nino Koni Santana School, there are around 350 students, being taught by 11 local Timorese teachers. The school is poorlyl equipped with no proper library, laboratory, basic sanitation such as toilets and bathrooms, and no canteen for students.
And yet, students at Nino Koni Santana Gleno are always trying to keep themselves informed about development issues in the country. The local community radio that was established in 2001 through the World Bank’s Community Empowerment and Governance Project, is very popular. “I love to listen to the community radio because it tells us about what is happening in our neighborhoods, in the districts and the world in general,” said Serlizia Maria Goncalves, a second year student.
Serlizia is one of the students who is keen to learn about the development of her country. “My parents can’t afford to buy a television because it is expensive, but I am always curious about what’s going on, so I listen to the radio, read the daily newspaper, and talk with my with friends to find out about development issues,” said Serlizia who is keen to become an English teacher.
Living in a remote town like Gleno, students face an enormous challenge to get to school. “I wake up in the morning at 5:00 a.m, have a shower, eat my breakfast and then I have to walk 20 kilometers everyday to school. I rely on radio and newspapers to keep me up-to-date about what is happening in Dili, the districts as well around the world,” said Deamantino Borges de Jesus, first year student. Despite the geographical isolation from Dili, students never feel discouraged from coming to school.
Gleno is one of the districts that was most affected by last year’s violence. During the crisis, teaching at the school was interrupted. Nevertheless, a year on, students are still optimistic about the future of the country. “Despite the fact that the country is progressing slowly, being the future leader of this country, I am always optimistic about the future of my country. I am a strong believer in the direction this country is heading towards,” said Agusto de Jesus Alves, second year student.
These young Timorese students from Nino Koni Santana High School also appeal to all the country’s leaders as well as the Timorese people, to promote peace and stability so that the country can move forward. “Let us renounce violence because violence will make the country remain backward and underdeveloped. With peace and stability, we will make progress for current and future generations,” said Joanina Pinto, third year student.