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Education

This section provides evidence on educational outcomes and various aspects of the use of educational services by the Timorese population. A large number of topics are covered including the highest level of schooling attained by the adult and youth population; completion rates of primary, pre-secondary and secondary; reading and writing ability of the adult population; school participation rates; primary, pre-secondary and secondary enrolment rates; profile of students attending school and the distribution of those currently out of school; population that has never attended school and the reasons for non-attendance. Several of the tabulations are presented for the academic year 2004/05 as well as for the academic year 2006/07 as the survey contains information about both years.

The highest level of educational attainment for the adult (18 years and older) and youth (16-30 years) population refers to the most advanced level they have completed in the educational system. The levels considered are none, incomplete primary, complete primary, incomplete pre-secondary, complete pre-secondary, incomplete secondary, complete secondary, academy/university, and vocational/non-formal. Complete primary refers to those who have completed primary school but have not done even a single year of pre-secondary. Complete pre-secondary refers to those who have completed pre-secondary but have not done even a single year of secondary. Complete secondary refers to those who have completed secondary but have not done even a single year of post-secondary education. If a particular level is not completed, the figures show the percentage of the relevant age group that have successfully done at least one year of that level.

On the other hand, the level of schooling for those attending a particular academic year just refers to the level of education in which students were enrolled in that academic year. And overall school participation for 2006/07 (2004/05) denotes whether a person attended any educational level during 2006/07 (2004/05).

Completion rates for primary, pre-secondary and secondary refer to the percentage of the population that has completed each level of schooling. In the case of primary, it is estimated for those 12 years and older; for pre-secondary among those 15 years and older; and for secondary among those 18 years and older. Two sets of completion rates are reported: one for all the population in the respective age group and another for all the population in the respective age group that ever attended school.

Reading and writing ability refers to the ability to read and/or write a letter in the language spoken in the household. The reading/writing ability is as self-reported by household members; no literacy tests were administered during the survey.

Net and gross enrolment rates are calculated for the three main educational levels: primary, pre-secondary and secondary.1The relevant age group for primary is those ages 6 to 11 years, for pre-secondary those ages 12 to 14 years, and for secondary those ages 15 to 17 years.

1 The terms enrolment rates and attendance rates are sometimes used to emphasize the source of the data: administrative records or self-reported attendance to school.  In this report, enrolment rates refer to self-reported attendance to school.

The gross enrolment rate for a certain level is the ratio of the number of students attending that level irrespective of their age to the total number of children in the relevant age group for that level. The net enrolment rate for a certain level, on the other hand, is the ratio of the number of students in the relevant age group attending that level to the total number of children in the relevant age group for that level. In other words, while the denominators for the gross and net enrolment rates are the same, the numerator for the net enrolment rate is smaller as it excludes both under-age and over-age pupils for any given level of education. Over-age students are the most important reason for net enrolment rates to be smaller than the gross rates, and they reflect the problems of late starters, repeaters, and others who have had some interruption in their educational progression.

An important element in the estimation of the enrolment rates is the evaluation of the age of children in constructing the relevant age groups for different levels of education.  For the latter, we need to invoke the concept of the “right” age for a particular level of education based on current educational guidelines and the timing of the academic year, in particular, the following:

  1. The academic year typically runs from September to July.
  2. By his or her 6th birthday, a child is expected to be in the first grade of primary school, by the 12th birthday in the first grade of pre-secondary, and by the 15th birthday in the first grade of secondary school.

In light of the above, rather than using the age of the child on the day of interview, his or her age at the beginning of the academic year was calculated. Thus, for enrolment rates and school participation for 2004/05, the child’s age on September 1, 2004 was calculated by subtracting from their current age the difference between the date of interview and September 1, 2004. Similarly, for enrolment rates and school participation for 2006/07, age as on September 1, 2006 was estimated, and an analogous procedure was also used for these two indicators based on the 2001 TLSS.

A significant caveat relating to a particular feature of the education module of the questionnaire should be mentioned because it will affect some of the findings. In the education module, if a person had ever attended school, she was asked about attendance in the academic year 2004/05. If the response was positive, this person provided information about that academic year and also about attendance in the current academic year (2006/07 or 2007/08).2 If however the person did not attend the academic year 2004/05, she would only report her highest grade completed in school, and further questions about current attendance were not asked.

This feature of the questionnaire has practical implications for some of the indicators. First, in the case of the highest educational attainment of the adult population, there are around 2% of those aged 18 years and more for whom the level reported may not be the highest. If someone did attend school during 2004/05 but she was currently not attending, the information refers to the level attended in 2004/05. However, it is not possible to know, for instance, if this person enrolled in 2005/06, studied an additional year and then did not enroll in 2006/07. Second, in the case of attendance for the academic year 2006/07, there are around 5.9% of those ages 5 to 17 years for whom it is not possible to know whether they are currently attending or not. These

2 The focus on the academic year 2004/05 reflects the original timing of the survey, which was intended to take place during 2006, and thus 2004/05 would have been the last complete academic year.  However, even though the survey started in April 2006, fieldwork had to be suspended in May 2006 due to the outbreak of conflict in the country. The survey was only resumed in January 2007, but kept collecting information about 2004/05 and the current academic year, which since the resumption of the survey referred to the academic year 2006/07 or 2007/08 (rather than 2005/06 as originally intended). While all the population that ever attended school provided information about the academic year 2004/05, those interviewed from January 2007 to August 2007 reported for the 2006/07 academic year, and only those interviewed from September 2007 to January 2008 reported for the 2007/08 academic year. Hence, neither enrolment rates nor school participation rates are reported for the 2007/08 academic year.

children did not attend school in 2004/05 but may have been enrolled in 2006/07. Thus, all indicators for the academic year 2006/07 are conditional on having attended 2004/05 and exclude the 5.9% of children for whom it is not possible to know their current attendance.