Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Michael Duffy

Second Advisor

Ursula Aldana

Third Advisor

Jane Bleasdale


East Timor, as a postcolonial and post-conflict country, has striven to develop its educational system for almost two decades after its independence in 2002. The current educational system with the Portuguese language as the medium of instruction has been a challenge for teachers and students in the teaching and learning process. The fact that teachers and students are still using Tétum as a supplementary language to explain and express ideas shows that the educators and learners are still struggling with Portuguese despite the efforts of East Timor government to bridge the language gap.

Teachers and students, conversely, acknowledge that the Portuguese language is important for the process of teaching and learning. The Portuguese language can increase intellectual ability and improve quality education in East Timor. Furthermore, the Portuguese language also has an important role in the development of the Tétum language. However, the implementation of Portuguese as the medium of instruction is regarded as ineffectual since the desired outcomes have created more issues in teaching and learning that lead to other educational and social issues.

This qualitative research depicts personal and professional experiences of teachers and students at Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiola (CSIL) in Kasait, East Timor, on the advantages and disadvantages, challenges, and obstacles in using Portuguese as the medium of instruction in the teaching and learning process. The study, moreover, explores the experiences of institutional and educational leaders who are decision-makers in policy implementation of both East Timor education and Jesuit education.

Reflecting on the presence of Jesuit educational institutions in East Timor brings hope to its educational system improvement. Jesuit education has demonstrated to be effective not only in intellectual formation, but also in the formation of characters during the time of Portuguese colonization, Indonesian occupation, and independence. During the era of struggling for self-determination and building a country, Jesuit education has formed and prepared intellectually competent, committed, and conscientious leaders of the country and the Catholic church in East Timor.

Jesuit educational institutions, in the period after independence, aim to serve the needs of the people of East Timor by providing a good quality education which is accessible to both privileged and unprivileged students. Furthermore, Jesuit educational institutions, in the context of East Timor education, in their contribution work toward the reconstruction of post-conflict East Timor by promoting both Portuguese and Tétum languages, national and cultural identities, and justice and inclusion. What Jesuit education has contributed and is contributing to the rebuilding of post-conflict East Timor will bring significant transformation in the lives of the people through the formation of young Timorese to answer the call to serve others.