I have signed up to the letter below. The contact to add your name is at the bottom of the letter. I have addended also a December, 2006 statement by the East Timorese government on the Cuban medical aid.
Prime Minister of Australia
Mr Kevin Rudd, MHR [also to other ministers]
Dear Prime Minister
Re: Australian and Cuban education assistance to Timor Leste
We the following academics, writers, organisations and NGO workers observe these developments, on education assistance to Timor Leste:
• over 2002-2007 the number of University scholarships offered by the Australian Government to students from Timor Leste declined from 20 per year to 8 per year
• over 2003-2006 the number of medical training scholarships offered by the Government of Cuba to students from Timor Leste increased from 50 to 1,000
There are currently 800 students from Timor Leste studying medicine with the Cubans. This makes it probably the biggest aid program in medical training, per capita, in the world. Adult literacy training in Timor Leste is now also dominated by the Cubans.
So far there have been two Australian reactions (government, media, NGO) to Cuban programs in ‘our’ region. One was to ignore, snipe at or seek to undermine the Cubans, as perceived ‘competitors’. The other is to respond with a generosity that matches them. We urge your government to strengthen this latter path and MATCH the Cuban scholarship offer.