Sustainable Development Goals

The Project

St Therese Parish in Bedois, Timor Leste, has requested the assistance of a qualified and experienced Primary Teacher to mentor local Timorese teachers and conduct English language lessons for local students across two Parish schools.

Teachers in Timor Leste typically have limited formal training and the staff have identified a need for a native English speaker with experience in education to assist them in strengthening their English language program and improving staff capacity. This project will provide local teachers with two years of on-the-job training in educational pedagogy and English language tuition. It is expected that the teachers who are trained through this project will be able to implement an improved English language program that will provide students with greater opportunities into the future.

The Location

St Therese Parish is located in Bedois, an outer suburb of Dili, Timor Leste.

Timor-Leste, or East Timor, is a Southeast Asian nation occupying half the island of Timor. Landmarks in the capital, Dili, speak to the country’s struggles for independence from Portugal in 1975 and then Indonesia in 2002. Timor-Leste has a population of 1,246,310; 31.9% are living in urban areas, with a median age of 17.5 years.


The Challenge

Considerable progress has been made in improving education in Timor-Leste since gaining independence in 2002, particularly in urban areas. However, there is still an ongoing need for emphasis on the importance of education to decrease the high repetition rate, especially among first graders.

Despite the challenges, Timor-Leste has demonstrated it is serious about education with the development of curriculum reforms. However, many teachers are not qualified, and have only completed secondary education. Retention of skilled teachers is also a challenge. Education opportunities in Dili are varied, from small Parish schools to well-resourced international schools. Skilled teachers, especially those with qualifications and English language proficiency, are attracted to higher-paid roles in international schools or NGOs.

About You

St Therese Parish has requested a qualified and experienced primary teacher to work alongside local educators and to teach local students. The successful candidate will demonstrate:

  • Qualifications and experience in education, preferably in teaching English as a second language,
  • Previous experience in mentoring and supporting fellow teachers (preferred),
  • Willingness to learn tetum (local language),
  • Adaptability and flexibility,
  • Cultural sensitivity and openness to working within a different cultural context,
  • Willingness to work in Dili for 2 years, with limited resources and facilities, and
  • Willingness to engage their Australian community in promoting the work of the host organisation and their role.

How You Will Help

First you must be willing to learn from the local community.

Over the first six months you are asked not to change anything or suggest a change to operations.  During that six months you will take the time to learn language and cultural mores from a local counterpart willing to mentor you.  You will also start a register of the strengths of the current personnel and the assets in the community/country that might be used to achieve the goals of the assignment.

You need to commit to clarifying why things are done the way they are rather than presuming from your own cultural lens to outline what is missing. So, you need to ask questions to enable you to learn from your hosts, rather than in ignorance make suggestions about how things can improve. Palms training will prepare you for this approach.

In the second six months you will be ready and better know which of your skills and what of your knowledge applies to:

  • Developing understanding of educational pedagogy across two primary schools,
  • Improving proficiency in, and capacity to teach, English, and
  • Strengthening teachers’ implementation of new methods of learning.

Through skill exchange and support, staff directly mentored by the Australian teacher will use their new skills to continually develop their own classroom methods, which will improve teacher quality and student learning outcomes. Improved English proficiency will also mean that more educational resources become readily available to them. The increased confidence and engagement of staff will inspire their peers, who will additionally benefit through their coaching.

On an organisational level, this becomes a culture of skill sharing, which will steer Paroquia St Teresinha’s schools into an improved education system in Timor-Leste. This will ultimately benefit students, families and the wider community.


Note: The monthly living allowance enables you to live a modest local lifestyle. Based on the cost of living in a particular country, it covers food, your daily commute, communication and other local costs. It is not set to enable you to meet financial commitments at home, such as a mortgage or a personal loan.  It will not cover the costs of eating out and other entertainment. Read more about what is covered in our FAQ. All applicants will be required to complete a Working with Children and Police Check.


Think you have what it takes? Register your interest

    * Successful applicants must be available to attend an orientation course in Sydney. Palms Australia will not fund international flights and will not sponsor visas to attend this course. Read our FAQ for more.