Building capacity empowering women through education

Published: Monday 26th May 2014

International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014, was a time to celebrate the achievements of women around the world.  It is also an opportunity to reflect on the fact that many women in the world are still experiencing high levels of social and economic disadvantage.

To provide opportunities to people living in one of the world’s poorest nations – ACU is involved in a capacity-building partnership which provides education through the Instituto Católica para a Formação de Professores (Catholic Teacher’s College).

In alignment with ACU’s Mission, and the Catholic Social Teaching principle of preferential option for the poor, the college provides East Timorese men and women with the opportunity to study for a formal teaching qualification in Baucau.

Up until 2012, ACU worked in partnership with the Marist Brothers and the Bishop of Baucau to provide an ACU-accredited Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) degree.  The college continued to build its capacity as an organisation - and from 2012, students became able to study the program for direct accreditation from the college itself.

The establishment of the college has been particularly significant for young Timorese people – many of whom are women – giving them the chance to receive an education and formal qualifications.  Over the past three years, women have made up more than 70 per cent of participants in the program.

This access to educational opportunity can help these women to secure a livelihood and create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.  

Many of the female students are from rural areas of East Timor and have had limited opportunity to access education previously.  Often they are dealing with the responsibility of caring for, or financially supporting, their families.

“These opportunities are very big for my family,” said Diana Niana Boavida, a graduate from of the first intake of students.
Many of the graduates have taken their acquired skills back to their communities, while others teach in Dili, East Timor’s capital city.