Paulina Quintao – Some 340 students of Bogor and Maubara Public High Schools, in Liquisa municipality did not sit for their exams for first semester due to a strike called by volunteer teachers awaiting formalization of their status by the Ministry of Education.
National MP Angelica da Costa raised the issue at the plenary by asking Ministry of Education to intervene so students did not become the victim.
"We know that this is students' first exam but the two schools did not give the examdue to the teachers strike," he raised at the plenary of the national parliament.
He said the school has 30 teachers; 9 permanent and 21 volunteer teachers. The volunteer teachers are paid by the students' parents through the school's box of $4/hour per student.
The volunteer teachers have submitted their documents to the Ministry of Education to consider and to make them permanent teachers since 2014.
Meanwhile, the National secretary of the Timor-Leste Coalition for Education (TLCE), Jose de Jesus considered the strike inappropriate as the problem is between the volunteers and the Ministry of Education, not the students.
"It means that they do not have the willingness and commitment to contribute to education development in Timor-Leste," he said. He said the strike impacted gravely on the students, as report books for their first exam were empty.
He encouraged the volunteer teachers to raise their concerns with the Ministry of Education so that this will not impact with the learning process.
In 2016, the Ministry of Education declared it would no longer consider volunteer teachers but in reality some schools still educate students with volunteers.
"Reality is that from the beginning until now one teacher teaches some 30-60 students in one class. We cannot guarantee quality [of education] for the students," he said.
He added the normal standard of effective learning is 25 students in each class so teachers can adequately supervise students.