Educating The Future is committed to giving disadvantaged children of Timor-Leste a better quality of life by improving their access to preschool education.
We put the youth of Timor-Leste in the centre because as Australia’s second closest neighbour, Timor-Leste should not be worlds apart in terms of education standards.
By prioritising the provisionment of quality education at the most foundational level and formative stage in childhood development, we can ensure that ETF’s work today will have the greatest long-term benefits.
What is Educating The Future?
Educating The Future (ETF) is an Australian not-for-profit organisation operating at a grassroots level supported by community and corporate seeks to facilitate relief from poverty and generational disadvantage by providing access to preschool education. Since becoming a registered charity in 2016, ETF has established a volunteer team of students and an expert advisory panel, who are all committed to improving the quality of education in Timor-Leste. Funds raised by Educating The Future, in Australia, enable the construction and/or renovation of preschool infrastructure in regional areas of Timor-Leste as well as the facilitation of in-country partnerships. The organisation now creates manifold value to both Timorese and Australian communities.
Our team of 35 student volunteers constitute the bedrock of ETF’s work in Australia. As students themselves, our volunteers are united in their understanding of the transformative power of education across all contexts. In recognising the correlation between access to fundamental early education and a higher quality of life, our volunteers are motivated by the understanding of the potential invaluable impacts that their collective efforts can have on the lives of Timorese youth.
Our student volunteer base is supported by an advisory panel of individuals dedicated to ensuring that the organisation is well managed and continues to be a relevant and value-adding organisation. Hailing from all walks of life, the expert advisory panel is capable of proffering a plethora of professional and experiential knowledge to advise and inspire the work of our student volunteers. The emphasis on mentorship across all levels of the organisation has not only enhanced the efficiency of ETF’s work but has fostered a creative environment wherein collaboration is paramount.
Guided by our commitment to sustainable development, a core objective of ETFs work is the establishment of in-country networks and relationships in order to facilitate the development of rural early education in accordance with local customs and values. In Timor, ETF has developed a strong friendship with the Ministry of Education and local communities, working alongside the government to achieve the national goal of a preschool in every ‘suko’ [village]. In 2017, ETF constructed our inaugural preschool in Railaco Motahare, Ermera District, and in 2018, 10 preschoolers graduated to primary school – a promising foundation upon which ETF will continue to build.
When Timor-Leste gained independence in 2002, over 95% of educational infrastructure was destroyed and teachers fled to bordering Indonesia, leaving a country with a median age of 18 to rebuild from nothing. Presently, the national fail rate for grade 1 students sits at an astounding 23%. This means for a significant number of Timorese children, further essential education is precluded by a lack of a basic foundation. Noting these challenges, the Timorese government has made preschool education a priority. In accordance with this goal ETF has fashioned the following a developmental model which seeks to compliment the preexisting national system:
- Enable disadvantaged communities through access to quality education,
- Educate communities with a domestic curriculum, local teachers and methods,
- Empowering these communities, allowing for sustainability and self sufficiency into the future.
In Australia, ETF is developing the future leaders of the nation through a unique and inimitable volunteer experience. Young Australians become acquainted with diplomatic and bureaucratic processes, workplace environments, and leadership and professional development opportunities.
ETF is driven by a commitment to delivering work that is mutually beneficial for communities both at home and abroad, as well as contributing to the development of the Indo-Pacific as an amicable region for all communities, large and small. In 2018, ETF was thrilled to be named a recipient of the esteemed DFAT ‘Friendship Grant’, which will allow ETF to dramatically expand and enhance our activities in delivering quality education in Timor-Leste in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals. This grant is a testament to ETF’s commitment to international and intercultural collaboration and dialogue. Young, energetic and endorsed by the Australian and Timorese Government, ETF is using the leaders of tomorrow to solve the issues of today.
Frequenty Asked Questions
What are your priorities?
Building relationships and partnership with government and non government bodies to aid ETF’s plans to continue to build school in Ermera and potentially other districts. This ensures schools are sustainable as govt approval means teacher support and the maintenance of the school rather than ETF doing so
Why pre-schools and not primary or high-school?
- Government funds and support already exist in primary and high-school
- Students with no access to preschools are going to primary school and falling behind because they have no prior education
- In Ermera:
- Govt proposes that they need 1 preschool per village to solve the problem
- 28 preschools needed
How does your school work?
- Taken over by government
- They cover maintenance, costs and teacher training
- In the future they may be able to fund the feeding of students
- School operates on monday-thursday
- Teachers are at training on fridays
- 2 classes
- A class => for younger students
- Class has 40 children
- Taught by 2 female teachers
- B class => for older preschool students
- Class has 20 students
- Taught by 1 male teacher
What’s your company structure and how does your organisation work?
In Australia we are registered with the peak body for charities; Australian Charities & Not Profits Commission. We must report back to them on an annual basis. We are an unassociated organisation, with an advisory panel and Board directors.
What is the structure of the organisation?
ETF is overseen by a qualified board who manages the risk, financial position and strategic direction of the charity. There are three subcommittees (marketing and fundraising, governance and finance) that all individuals will have the opportunity to be a part of. Additionally, each team will be supported by a team leader and overseen by the leadership team who will facilitate growth and development of all individuals.
Do I have to be a university student to join Educating the Future (ETF)?
Although most members of our core team are university students, one does not need to be a student to join. We have many young professionals who play an active role in our charity. We also encourage any talented high-school students to apply.
Is ETF a society?
Although the majority of our organisation are students, we are not a university society. ETF is registered as a NGO with the ACNC. A society is not representative in our nature of operations and structure.
Do I have to attend UNSW to join ETF?
No, individuals from any university throughout Australia can join. We have several virtual members who support our various teams.
This ensures that all members are maximising their workload and have the appropriate forums to ask questions if required. During busier times such as peak event and fundraising periods and launching a new program, time expected will be increased.
Can I participate in an immersion trip with Educating The Future?
ETF currently runs an annual trip to Timor-Leste as a group. This means one should be a part of the student team or accompany the team as a mentor to attend the trip. This trip usually involves a mix of ETF work and meetings as well as immersive experiences.
How do I join your organisation?
ETF runs a recruitment period at the start of the Sydney university semesters 1 and 2. During this time please contact the firstname.lastname@example.org email account letting us know why you would like to join ETF and attach a resume so we can begin the recruitment process.
How did ETF start?
In 2014, co-founders Adam and Alessandro were selected as part of an inaugural Timor-Leste immersion team run by their school Waverley College. Whilst immersed in the local culture, they were able to witness a uniquely diverse nation, bound by natural and cultural beauty. However, as their stay elapsed they learnt the conflicted past of the nation and the shocking educational statistics. This, paired with the monumental disparity between educational standards compared to Australia sparked a desire to help. Situated for the duration of their stay in the Ermera District, Adam and Alessandro inherently drew comparisons to Australia, realising a need for change to increase the quality of life. As such, the Schoolies For Schooling initiative was cultivated, which raised $19,165 to facilitate the building of pre-school infrastructure in Timor-Leste. This created the foundations for Educating The Future to then be formed as a registered charity in April 2016.
Why do you work in Timor-Leste (overseas) when there are people struggling domestically?
Educating the Future’s original inspiration was derived from an immersion trip to Timor-Leste that enlightened it’s founders Adam and Alexi to a problem. They saw this problem the same as any other and set out to improve upon it. ETF’s main intention is to improve the living quality of other people’s live. Through experiences leading to the conception of ETF, the issue of a lack of pre-school education in Timor-Leste became most present to ETF’s founders and subsequently the current team.
Why is your organisation primarily students? How do you manage risk?
At ETF, we believe that by empowering young individuals to assist in developing countries, they gain a greater understanding of the issues surrounding education. Our model of ‘students for students’ means that university attendees and young professionals have the opportunity to have a valuable difference to the lives of children in Australia’s second closest neighbour.
Despite the core team of ETF predominantly comprising of students and young professionals, ETF is overseen by a qualified Board of 8 members who are qualified in their field of expertise. The Board manages the risk, governance and strategy of ETF and ensures that all activities both domestically and internationally are compliant with regulations as outlined by the ACNC. Everything ETF engages in goes through the Board for their critiques and approval.