The Timorese government is evaluating options to allow Portuguese teachers who left the country in April, due to the Covid-19, to return to Timor-Leste, the deputy prime minister told Lusa.
"The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the Interior are coordinating so that they can prepare for the return of teachers to Timor-Leste," said Jose Reis to Lusa.
In question are about 50 teachers from the Portuguese School of Dili and almost 90 of those posted at the Learning and Training Centers (CAFE) who left Timor-Leste in early April and who, due to restrictions on travel to Dili, are still unable to return.
The president of the Portuguese School of Dili, Acacio de Brito, told Lusa that "it is impossible to start classes in September if the teachers do not come" to Timor-Leste.
"We have all the conditions to start, but we lack human resources. We managed to get teachers on commercial flights in Kuala Lumpur, but then the problem is to come to Dili", he said.
"I am sure that it is the responsibility of the official bodies of Timor-Leste to allow that there may be some commercial air connections that allow bringing in teachers who, upon arrival, will comply with all containment rules and so on," he said.
In the case of CAFE, schools in the Timorese public system, classes have started again – the school year has a different calendar from the Portuguese one – but there are not enough teachers.
The main problem has to do with connections to Dili, as there are commercial flights to cities in the region, such as Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, however commercial flights and charters to and from Timor-Leste continue to be prohibited.
Despite this ban, citizens of several countries have been able to enter Dili in recent weeks, especially from Australia on flights from Darwin, as well as a World Food Program flight that travels from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In addition to the teachers, there are still Portuguese who are unable to return to Timor-Leste, where they live and work, or are unable to leave the country.