Communities and Schools Together Invest in Student Education

In Timor-Leste, students are more than twice as likely to drop out in Grades 4-6 as they are later in their academic careers. The School Dropout Prevention Pilot, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, aims to reduce that trend through an Early Warning System and extra-curricular activities. Engagement of students, educators, parents and community members are at the heart of the program.


In Timor-Leste, school dropout is highest in Grades 4-6, when 30% of students miss more than 15 days of school. Most parents, however, are unaware their child is missing school. USAID’s School Dropout Prevention Pilot is helping to change that.


School-aged children have a lot of competition for their attention—such as working to support the family or attending religious events—and too often the classroom has been on the losing end. The USAID School Dropout Prevention Pilot examines the home lives of at-risk students and works with educators and parents to devise solutions that encourage children to complete their education.

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For too long, schools have relied too much on “chalk and talk,” which led some students to lose interest and eventually skip class. Through the USAID School Dropout Prevention Pilot, educators are offering fun and interactive extra-curricular activities that draw students to school, and teachers are incorporating these new strategies, including games, as a way to keep students engaged and in their classes.

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Timor-Leste has placed an emphasis on education, though reaching its goals is a challenge when too many children dropout. Reducing absenteeism is a first step in the process. The USAID School Dropout Prevention Pilot developed an Early Warning System that alerts teachers, administrators and parents that a child is at-risk of not completing his/her studies.

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