UWS helps educate a new generation of East Timorese

Date: 27/09/2002

The new Vice-Chancellor of the National University of East Timor will give a special address to students at next week's graduation ceremonies at the UWS Parramatta campus.

While in Sydney, Professor Benjamim de Arajújo e Corte-Real will also sign an academic co-operative agreement with the University of Western Sydney, formalising a relationship which has existed since 1993.

Dr George Saunders from the School of Languages and Linguistics says UWS has a proud association with East Timor.

"My colleague Dr Geoffrey Hull has been instrumental in the selection of Tetum as one of the two official languages of the world's newest nation, and has recently been appointed as Director of Research and Publications at the new Instituto Nacional de Linguística within the National University of East Timor, in recognition of his work.

"The UWS Indonesian lecturer, Ms Toni Pollard, is also involved in a project to develop an Indonesian-Tetum dictionary, while much of my own research work will be dedicated to the new Institute."

"It is hoped Professor Corte-Real's visit will help establish the building blocks for further academic links between our two institutions. Some of our academics will be holding discussions with Professor Corte-Real during his time here about future opportunities in the fields of sport and education."

Professor Corte-Real was appointed as Vice Chancellor just one year ago, and says the task of rebuilding his University following East Timor's independence has been a difficult one.

"The old University of East Timor had been looted and burnt, and the new institution that took its place had to be rebuilt on another site with international aid. We had no books, no equipment, only a skeleton staff left, and with over 5,000 young people anxious to complete their education."

"Thanks to our international friends, especially Portugal and Australia, we have a national university again. We are making slow but steady progress as an institution whose task it is to produce a class of professionals for the newest nation in the world.

Professor Corte-Real says the National University of East Timor will play a pivotal role in the reconstruction of the new country.

"We must form the intelligentsia of the future, a body of citizens whose commitment to human values will make them East Timor's best defenders of freedom and democracy," he says.

"Of course, with our severely limited resources, we cannot play our part in the nation-building process without the help of our fellow academics in overseas institutions, like the University of Western Sydney."

The National University of East Timor now boasts five faculties, including Agriculture, Social and Political Sciences, Education and Teacher Training, Economics and Engineering. The institution caters for more than 6,300 students, and has 123 teaching staff.

Dr Saunders says UWS is proud to be associated with the new University.

"It is a unique opportunity to learn from each other, to help strengthen existing ties, and it is certainly a rewarding experience to play such an important role in East Timor's reconstruction."

WHAT: Signing ceremony, Academic Co-operation Agreement
WHEN: 11.45am sharp, Wednesday, October 2, 2002
WHERE: VIP Room, Auditorium, UWS Parramatta, cnr Victoria Road and James Ruse Drive

This will be followed by Professor Corte-Real's speech to students.

Media Enquiries:
Angela McIntyre
Senior Media Officer
02-9678 7424
0419 244 595
Email: a.mcintyre@uws.edu.au