In 2011, the Society of Jesus embarked on an education project in Timor-Leste to help the country meet some of its great need in the area of education. By providing quality education programs and making them available especially to the poorest people, the Jesuits seek to form critical, competent, and caring leaders, attentive to and shaped by values derived from the Ignatian tradition, the Catholic faith, and the cultural context of Timor-Leste.
The Projeto Educação Jesuíta comprises two complementary institutions – Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiolá, a secondary school, and Instituto São João de Brito (ISJB), an institute to train senior secondary school teachers. It is located in Kasait, a rural area approximately 18 km from Dili. Construction began in 2012 and it will take at least 10 years to complete.
The secondary school accepted its first intake, of Year 7 students, in 2013. By January 2018, the school will have its full complement of approximately 600 students in Years 7 to 12.
The teacher education institute commenced in 2016 with a modest initial intake of 25 students. The Instituto São João de Brito complements Instituto Católico para Formação de Professores, a Catholic teachers’ college for primary education, founded in 2001 by the Marist Brothers, which also serves all 13 districts of Timor-Leste.
Eventually, when the government achieves its aim of reforming secondary education in the country, the education project will establish centers for lifelong learning through research and training in the areas of media and communications, civil society and culture, and faith formation and leadership.