With an average age of 22, the graduates attended the newly founded course from 5 June to 21 October 2014. They each received a certificate issued by Timor Leste Government agency SEPFOPE (Secretariat of State for Vocational Training & Employment), which is equivalent to NSW TAFE.
The pilot group successfully finished the course in five months, having completed modules in Typing, MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, MS Access and Photoshop. The aim is ultimately for participants to graduate within three months.
The number of participants per course is currently restricted to the available computers – roughly 50 laptops – all of which have been provided via the LETS Computer Project. This will enable up to 180 individuals to receive the IT training each year, based on current resources.
“We have now launched Phase II of our LETS Computer Project, seeking an additional 40 pre-loved laptops to augment the program already established in Letefoho,” notes Georgina, “This will facilitate outreach to other villages.”
“The Timor Leste Government agency, SEPFOPE has been very impressed with the resources provided by LETS,” says Fr Helio Fernandes, Parish Priest of Letefoho, “and will continue to support the training. SEPFOPE would like to see more centres like this opened”.
Based on this preliminary success, Fr. Helio has indicated that the vision is to create a Business Centre at the High School site in Letefoho, to incorporate a Computer & Multimedia Lab; a Linguistic Lab (where students could learn English, Portuguese and Tetun); Internet facilities; and purpose-built commercial space.
“The aim of the Business Centre would be – during both school and after-school hours – to prepare students and adults to be either business-ready, or for students to study further and specialise in business-related areas,” Fr Helio noted.
Attendees at the inaugural graduation ceremony for the LETS Training Centre Computer Training Course (Beginner to Intermediate) included the graduates, as well as H.E. Alberto Ricardo da Silva, Bishop of the Diocese of Dili; Fr. Ludgerio Martins da Silva, Secretary, Diocese of Dili; Fr. Helio Fernandes, Parish Priest of Letefoho; Fr. Arnaldu; a representative from SEPFOPE; Ms Beth Brown, volunteer teacher sponsored by Fidesco; Mr Paul Arblaster, Publications Coordinator with LETS; and Mr Denis Fernandez, President of the Australian-Timor Leste Chamber of Commerce.
“We are incredibly proud to congratulate the first 64 graduates from the LETS Training Centre Computer Training Course (Beginner to Intermediate). This is the first ever school-based Information Technology training course in a remote district of Timor Leste,” says LETS Chairperson, Georgina Loughnan.
"Special thanks to the inspiring and enthusiastic volunteer teacher, Beth Brown - who had the students ready to hit the ground running before the computers even arrived in the country!" says Georgina, "Beth had the students start practising on cardboard cut-out laptops - everyone was so eager to get going!"
“And what a wonderful outcome - the first graduates have newly acquired skills in computer-based word processing, as well as basic spread sheets and graphics. This will greatly enhance their ability to access further education and to secure employment, particularly given the Timor Leste Government’s decision to give the course full accreditation”.
“Employment prospects for young adults without skills are very poor, especially in rural areas such as Letefoho,” explains Georgina. “The impact of this course at the community level cannot be underestimated. It will enable graduates to go on and train other individuals, while also inspiring confidence to seek out opportunities that would otherwise have been outside their reach. The pride and confidence that goes with completing this qualification will no doubt have a wonderful multiplier effect within the community”.
We are supporting the provision of information & communication resources and training to the communities of Letefoho by supplying pre-loved laptops.
To date, thanks to the generosity of so many donors, we have been able to ship 68 laptops and a new laser printer to Timor Leste. These are being used in a computer training program operated by Letefoho Senior High School which has already made history!
This is not only the first time the school has been able to offer computer-based education; it is also the first school-based Information Technology course ever to run in a remote district of Timor Leste.
As there is no electricity supply to the school, the computer classes are currently run in the church hall. Our priority project is the first phase of refurbishing the school, which will include facilitating computer classes within the school. Special thanks to Schenker P/L and Rotary for their assistance with shipping the computers.