Episode 5: All Girl School, Venilale Subdistrict

In this episode we visited an all-girl school in Venilale Subdistrict (a stone’s throw from the Escola do Reino de Venilale) where we were greeted by the head Nun herself.

Sister Olgabelo FMA explained to us the origin of the school: built in 1994, it primarily served as a learning place for local young girls with the aim of gaining employment in the service industry. The idea is that the lack of university education should not prohibit young people from economically disadvantaged background from having employment. Initially the school only provided a course in sewing (and to a degree: fashion).

In 2003, upon the success of the program, the school started to gradually accept boys to enter the course. This was due to the perceived market needs for more employees in the hospitality industry. By this time new courses opened up: Cookery, Fashion and Hospitality.

Until 2010, the school has a total of 197 students that is comprised of 23 boys. Sister Olgabelo says that today in East Timor, the boys have open their mind to new roles and the girls have also opened to mind to what is commonly thought as boys’ roles. “Because overseas, it is the boys who cook, and bread is usually baked by boys!” claimed Sister Olgabelo.

So from now, the Senior High Schol boys work at hotels. There is a total of 16 boys who work in Hotel Dili for 3 months. They are learning the tools of the trade. The school also works with East Timor Development Agency (ETDA) on our Fashion course so the girls would be more employable.

Architectural Observation

This is also the first building we reviewed that was built during the Indonesian era. When entering, immediately we noticed the difference: Entrance is no longer staged by staircases, but by a hall that leads to corridors facing the two courtyards. These courtyards serve as physical and social activity centres, i.e. recess, for the students.

Fatin Historico plans to write an article on the characteristics and the distinctions between the different architectural types in East Timor in the future.

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