Education and conflict recovery: the case of Timor Leste

Education and conflict recovery: the case of Timor Leste

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. The authors 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. They 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, the paper finds 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.

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