East Timorese soldiers trade weapons for notebooks 


A joint Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Australian Defence initiative, aimed at bridging the educational gap between the Timorese and Australian education systems, has boosted the outlook of a group of East Timorese soldiers.

Graduating from CDU with a Certificate III in General Education for Adults, the group of 10 East Timorese soldiers were formally recognised at a recent ceremony.

The group is the second contingent of East Timorese soldiers to take part in the specialist six-month intensive program designed to help reduce the previously high rate of student failure on Australian high-end military courses.

With East Timorese soldiers having to compete with Australian officer cadets who have completed university study at training institutions such as the Royal Military College in Canberra, programs of this nature are considered critical.

Project Manager Lorraine Sushames said the soldiers-turned-students approached the program with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, which played no small part in the group’s 100 per cent pass rate.

“The soldiers are committed to rebuilding the future of East Timor and are eager to pass on the knowledge they’ve gained during the course,” she said.

“While on campus the group learned much about studying in a university environment and now has a breadth of knowledge in relation to how systems in Australia work.”

During the course the group undertook activities focusing on English language, drama, reading and writing for academic purposes, mathematics and numeracy, oral communication and computer training.

The soldiers also undertook high-level training with specialist army unit NORFORCE during the six-month period. Training undertaken included a survival course, range shoot first aid training, navigator training and weapons training.

The East Timorese soldiers were presented with their certificates by CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover at an official ceremony in early April.