The Sergio Vieira de Mello Center works to raise funds to buy new computer equipment for the Sergio Vieira de Mello Elementary and High School in Timor-Leste.
The institute is located in the Becora neighborhood in Dili, and the Sergio Vieira de Mello Center is seeking to strengthen the institution's overall capacities. The school, one of only two learning facilities in the capital of Dili, has students that range from 4 to 80 years old, who are focusing on completing elementary and high school education there. It meets the needs of a population with low access to education: for example, in basic education, the classes are large and have an average of 57 - 88 students.
The educational situation there is dire. According to a recent study, in Timor, 59% of 16 year-olds are 2 or more levels below what they should be. In general, the rate of students repeating years in Timor-Leste is "among the highest in the world, outside Africa", being the lowest, but "possibly unrealistic", at the secondary education levels. This study also shows that the highest enrollment rate, around 90%, occurs in children between 11 and 13 years old, being reduced in younger and older children, around 60%.
In general, there is a high lead rate and a lack of resources in the Timorese education system. In Timor, around 9.4% of children between 12 and 18 years of age did not complete any school level.
According to the study, 28% of 10-year-olds are two or more levels below what they should, a rate that rises to 59% among 16-year-olds, with the problem being even more pronounced in rural areas. At 17, a child from a poor farming family in a rural municipality, with uneducated parents, will be 6 levels below a middle class child in Dili. This means that “social inequality in access to education that is a major challenge for the future development of Timor-Leste”.