IDS working papers;381

Education and conflict recovery : the case of Timor Leste

Published on 1 January 2011

The Timor Leste secession conflict lasted for 25 years. Its last wave of violence in 1999,
following the withdrawal of Indonesian troops, generated massive displacement and
destruction with widespread consequences for the economic and social development of the
country. This paper analyses the impact of the conflict on the level and access to education
of boys and girls in Timor Leste. We examine the short-term impact of the 1999 violence on
school attendance and grade deficit rates in 2001, and the longer-term impact of the conflict
on primary school completion of cohorts of children observed in 2007. We compare also the
educational impact of the 1999 wave of violence with the impact of other periods of highintensity
violence during the 25 years of Indonesian occupation. The short-term effects of the
conflict are mixed. In the longer term, we find a strong negative impact of the conflict on
primary school completion among boys of school age exposed to peaks of violence during
the 25-year long conflict. The effect is stronger for boys attending the last three grades of
primary school. This result shows a substantial loss of human capital among young males in
Timor Leste since the early 1970s, resulting from household investment trade-offs between
education and economic survival.
Keywords: conflict; education; children; gender.

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