Plan International knows that there are no limits to what girls can achieve. We also believe that schools should be teaching them exactly that - setting them on the path to become leaders in whatever they do.
For many girls, school is where they first discover their voice. It’s where they learn about their rights, how to defend them, and where they gain the skills they need to take the lead in their own lives.
Girls are speaking up for themselves
For the last 3 years, Plan International Timor-Leste has supported a public speaking competition in Alieu district, located in the country's mountainous interior.
I entered the public speaking competition because people showed that they believe in me.
To prepare students for the contest, children are mentored and receive training on debating and oratory skills. The competition is held at school, district and national level.
Augustiana, 17, is a finalist in the Alieu district contest. Her winning speech was called 'Education is the Path to a Developed Nation', a subject that she feels passionately about.
"I want to contribute to my nation, and through education we can learn about health and other areas and we can provide help to those who need it." She adds: "I entered the public speaking competition because people showed that they believe in me."
Gaining confidence through public speaking
Augustiana speaks with the confidence of someone decades older, and with a presence that dwarfs that of the politicians whose speeches preceded hers.
The district level competition was attended by several hundred local students, as well as community leaders and village heads. Finalists from Alieu will proceed to the national competition in the capital of Dili.
Education will inspire tomorrow's leaders
In Timor-Leste, most public speaking and decision making is made by men, often community elders. This project strives to help all children, especially girls, become more confident about speaking up for themselves, both on the topics of the day and wider issues that affect them.
Plan International believes in helping young people find their voices in their communities, and works with them to defend and uphold their rights. Quality education and learning leadership skills early on could help inspire the leaders of tomorrow.
Time is running out for girls’ education
Education is every child's right and is key to tackling issues such as poverty, climate change and gender equality. Educating girls has beneficial effects on society which can contribute to the development of entire countries. However, girls are far more likely to remain excluded from school.
On 2 February 2018, world leaders will meet at the Global Partnership Financing Conference in Dakar. It is here that they will make financial commitments for education spending over the next 4 years.
We are calling on world leaders to support the funding of inclusive, quality education so girls can follow their ambitions and become the leaders of tomorrow. We must act now, or we risk losing the potential of a whole generation.