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Stakeholder Consultation Meeting on UNESCO Country Strategic Document for Timor-Leste 2021-2025

As a first step of the formulation of the new UNESCO Country Strategic Document (UCSD), UNESCO Jakarta, through Dili Antenna Office organized an engagement and consultation meeting which was well-attended by the key stakeholders and relevant UNESCO partners in Timor-Leste. The meeting, conducted in 19 August 2020, was aimed at synergizing the UNESCO Country plan with the Timor-Leste UNSDCF 2021-2025.

The meeting was commenced by Mr. Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator, Professor Shahbaz Khan, Director and Representative of UNESCO, and Government pertinent stakeholders. In his opening remarks, Mr. Trivedy highlighted the importance of UNESCO’s mandate towards developing the country particularly contributing to the six areas that were identified in UNSDCF, such as on issues of education, science, and culture. In addition, Mr. Apolonario Serpa Rosa, Director-General of Pre-schools, Basic Education, and Non-Formal Education, reflected on UNESCO’s support which have yielded positive improvements in the areas of vocational schools, green schools, and Basic Math and Science and revision of curriculum Match and Science.

The Director-General for multicultural of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Jesuino Alves reiterated that UNESCO is one important partner of Timor-Leste to enhance the critical area of education in the country. He also emphasized the new Minister’s appreciation for UNESCO to upgrade its representation level in the country and where the Government of Timor-Leste is committed to supporting at the higher level. Furthermore, Professor Shahbaz Khan also reaffirmed UNESCO’s commitment for continued support in implementing of UNSDCF and SDGs through its highlighted areas of programs. Furthermore, he underlined the ownership by the Government of Timor-Leste on the program areas and ensure that national priorities are well reflected in the UNESCO’s country strategic document for the next five years.

The second session was started with Ms. Adelina Tilman, Projects Coordinator at Dili Antenna Office presenting on the six key areas highlighted in the UNSDCF in which UN System needs to prioritize in 2021-2025 that includes Nutrition, food security and sustainable agriculture; Sustainable Economic Opportunities and Decent Work for All; Early Childhood Development and Life-Long Learning Outcomes and Skills; Quality Healthcare and Well-Being; Accountable, Inclusive and Participatory Governance and Quality Public Services; and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Resilience to Climate Change. The session then subsequently followed by presentations of each Programme Specialists. Ms Ai Sugiura as Programme Specialist for Science Policy and Capacity Building unit shared about the ongoing coordination of UNESCO with UNTL and Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Culture on Situation Analysis of Higher Education in Timor-Leste on Needs & Assets identification on the role Higher Education institutions to accelerate delivery of SDGs and to increase resilience in changing environment such as COVID-19 crisis, the ongoing work with INCT on national STI policy mapping as well as the progress on the project supported by the Japanese Government “ Strengthening Science and Mathematics Primary Education in Timor-Leste”.

Secondly, Ms Mee Young Choi, Programme Specialist of Education highlighted on 5 key areas on education programme in Timor-Leste, namely; (1) Sector-wide policy and plans (2) Technical Vocation Education and Training (TVET) by supporting Ministries of Education and TVET Institutions. (3) Teachers policy and training (4) Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) by strengthening the national education authorities and institutions’ capacities in ESD (5) Inclusive Education by strengthening the national capacities through research, trainings to ensure the quality of inclusive education and its supporting national system linking with well-being, equity, and gender issues.

Thirdly, the presentation was conducted by Mr. Hans Thulstrup, Senior Programme Specialist of Water, Environment and Science. He highlighted UNESCO’s Technical assistance towards the nomination of Nino Konis Santana National Park as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve as a mechanism through which to ensure the sustainable long-term management of the NKSNP, its surroundings and the livelihoods of its local population. Mr. Thulstrup also outlined UNESCO’s support towards water security in Timor-Leste through the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme. Ms. Moe Chiba, Programme Specialist for Culture unit noted the three UNESCO conventions that TL has ratified – 1972 World Heritage Convention, 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention and 2005 Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. To support the Government of Timor Leste in the implementation of these conventions, UNESCO has assisted the National Committee for Tais to undertake stakeholder consultations and develop an action plan for safeguarding and reviving of Tais under 2003 Convention, and also supporting SEAC to assess existing policies related to the diversity of cultural expressions in the country as part of 2005 Convention.

On the area of Disaster Risk Reduction side, Mr. Ardito Kodijat as National Programme Specialist stressed on the IOC-UNESCO plans to support Timor-Leste through regional activities in capacity building, provide guidelines, and facilitate the establishment of a standard level of community capability to evaluate and mitigate the risk, prepare for, and respond to tsunamis. As for Communication and Information, Mr. Ming Kuok Lim, Adviser for the unit, stressed that UNESCO will continue to strengthen the quality of media in the area of traditional media, online media and community media so that the public continues to have the quality information, especially in the event where access and quality of information is crucial. Mr. Irakli Khodeli, Programme Specialist for Social and Human Science stressed on the need for Timor-Leste in establishing a national committee for Bioethics. UNESCO will assist in providing technical support for this establishment.

The presentations were followed by questions and answers, comments/inputs by stakeholders on UNESCO’s work in Timor-Leste. The meeting ended with a closing remark by Professor Shahbaz Khan by appreciating the time and inputs/suggestions/comments by the stakeholders, which UNESCO will consider in the formulation and development of the new UNESCO strategic document for the next five years plan.