About 18 languages are native to East Timor, which fall into 2 genetic groups: (a) Austronesian (eg Tetun) and (b) Papuan (eg Fataluku). They have been spoken by their communities for centuries. In addition, East Timor has two official languages: (a) Tetun and (b) Portuguese. Since most East Timorese children have neither language as their mother tongue, the use of these official languages at school presents a major challenge - especially in the earliest years.
How can we facilitate children's learning and literacy in Tetun and Portuguese, while also preserving and fostering East Timor's important linguistic and cultural heritage?
One effective way is to provide children with the tools to read and write in their own mother tongue, as well as in Portuguese and Tetun. Research around the world shows that children learn better - including in official languages - if they start first with their own.
To support this goal, RUMACCC
produces and distributes earlyreaders in some of the different languages spoken in East Timor and
provides information for East Timor friendship groups