Episode 1: School + Library, Venilale Subdistrict

School + Library: Escola do Reino de Venilale

Venilale Subdistrict, Bacau

This building was one of the first buildings erected in Venilale Subdistrict, Bacau Province. It was built in 1933 to function as a church to accommodate the Portugese for their religious activity.

After some time, the activity moved to a newer building located on top of a hill, and this building was then converted into a school which eventually became the first public schools in Timor Leste. At that time there were only two schools: one in Soibada Subdistrict, Manatutu Province and the other is this one.

The reason for having two schools was down to the student age group that they could take. In Venilale, only students from Grade 1 to 4 were accepted, after which they were sent to Soibada for Grade 5 and beyond.

Early in its life, the education in Venilale was highly limited. The Portugese had only allowed education for the influential few, such as the children of the local rulers. The average residents were not allowed to attend for reasons such as the lack of money. During that time, there existed differences (and discrimination) between the ruling class, the ordinary residents and the lower class. The latter group worked extraordinarily hard to support the children of the higher class (such as the head of the village and mayor) in getting their education.

Eventually after the arrival of the Indonesians in 1975, this place was converted into an orphanage. They also built an L-shaped building across this one to be used as school, and the orphanage was relocated to a smaller building nearby.

This building was then finally converted back once again to be used as a school nearer to the independence of Timor Leste. And after being inaugurated by then President of Timor Leste Xanana Gusmao, a library service was added to the building. During our visit there we also glimpsed of the space being used for children, perhaps a Sunday school or kindergarten.

There are a number of local residents who have lived long enough to witness almost every phases of the building. We would like to thank Silverto Hornain for allowing us to interview and understand the building better.

Erratum: On the video at 1:12, it says “In 1993…” while it should be “In 1933…”

2 Responses to “Episode 1: School + Library, Venilale Subdistrict”

  1. David Foster says:

    Good film, informative. Well done.

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