This year Fundasaun Mahein (FM) began a district youth security sector workshop to raise awareness among district youth on two crucial issues: youth security issues (including drug abuse, human trafficking, and traffic safety) and PNTL roles and responsibilities (including the different PNTL departments). The target audience are students in the final grades of secondary school, who may later come to urban areas.
On 29 January 2012, Fundasaun Mahein (FM) staff met with the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to present the workshop to him. The president expressed emphatic support for the FM program. He specifically noted the relevance of the program in that Timor-Leste was a growing transit country for drugs, suffered increasing numbers of human trafficking, and experienced heavy traffic in Dili.
Since then, FM has visited two district schools. The first school was in Aileu, and FM staff were supported during the workshop by the Aileu PNTL district commanders. Approximately 1,500 students and school administrators attended the workshop. Several members of the surrounding community were also present. The students asked numerous questions related to drugs, human trafficking, and traffic safety. The second school was in Liquica with approximately 1,500 students. The Liquca students also asked many questions about the security presentation. The students at both schools were involved and connected with the interactive workshop.
FM plans to cover 15-20 schools in all 13 districts, at this stage of program development. FM’s program is supported in part by GIZ, the international development organization of Germany, but we may need additional support complete the program plans in all 13 districts.
Fundasaun Mahein (FM) understands that the active engagement of these students with FM staff with their questions and attention indicates a lack of readily available information on these issues. There seems to be no government channel or information source distributing information on these issues of youth security risks and community police roles, at least from a security and justice perspective. FM believes that with our expertise, we are a good information source for this civic education.
Still, we ask the government to develop a youth education program such as this, as we are all aware that drug transit numbers in Timor-Leste are increasing from month to month. Fundasaun Mahein (FM) invites all government institutions to cooperate in establishing a multi-faceted program that incorporates many government perspectives that address youth security threats and police roles. Such an investment in education is worthwhile because the future of the nation is in the young people’s hands, and protecting the young people means protecting the future.
Having a large number of students actively engaging with Fundasaun Mahein is a signal that people in the districts – even beyond youth – need more information about their security conditions. The process of development can bring forth criminal issues such as organized crime and traffic safety, and the people in the districts have a right to remain informed.