Definition of Youth

The Timor-Leste national youth policy (2007) defines youth as those aged from 16 to 30 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 17
  • 16
  • XX

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Code of Timor-Leste

Majority Age


Source: Civil Code of Timor-Leste (2011)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 81.89% Male (15-24) %
  • 82.86% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 35.75%Male %
  • 39.75% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 60.20% Male (13-15) %
  • 53.40% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The national youth policy national youth policy of Timor-Leste is from 2007. A youth survey and a youth analysis exist.

The national youth policy (2007) was based on the findings of the 2005 national survey of young people in the country.   The key strategies of the national youth policy are:

  • Mobilise young people to serve their communities;
  • Facilitate the step from education to the labour marker;
  • Provide more and better job opportunities for young people;
  • Teach illiterate young people how to read and write;
  • Help the most disadvantaged youth;
  • Promote the civic participation of young people.
  The policy places particular focus on inter-ministerial policy efforts, and on issues like employment and literacy and rural development. It identifies marginalised groups that require different approaches, such as youths with disabilities, women, and rural youth.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Secretary of State for Youth and Sports (SEDJ), founded in 2008, is the governmental office responsible for youth affairs. According to the decree-law No.13/2008 it is in charge of designing and implementing youth policies, establishing collaborations across government bodies within the scope of the youth policies, and setting up mechanisms for young peoples projects. Within the Secretary of State is the National Youth Directorate is in charge of developing youth programmes in the areas of volunteerism, vocational training, mobility and exchange and citizenship building.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Timor-Leste has a National Youth Council (CNJTL), but there is little additional information available online. The president of the National Youth Council sits on the Advisory Board on Youth and Sports – the advisory body in charge of reviewing the progress and implementation of Secretary of State for Youth and Sports (SEDJ )activities. According to the Secretariat report, the CNJTL and SEDJ – with support from UNICEF – drafted the statute of the Youth Parliament.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
The 2010 budget allocated 5.2 million USD to the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports. However, the proportion of this amount spend specifically on youth is unclear. According to the World Bank, Timor-Leste spent 9.42% of its GDP on education in 2011, but does not calculate what this translates to in terms of percentage of government expenditure.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed May 2014).

Additional Background

Timor-Leste achieved independence in 2002 after a complex history of colonial rule and brutal foreign occupation. It is a young state in the process of shaping its institutions and policies, and coping with issues such as poverty, illiteracy and a legacy of violence. According to the 2009 Armed Violence Assessment brief, the gang violence which erupted in 2007 was composed of varied groups, but the majority were youths, with high youth unemployment rates and poverty being that main root causes of unrest. To tackle these issues the 2009 National Youth Employment Action Plan sets down key steps to tackle the high levels of youth unemployment, which include:
  • Provision of subsidized / training wages, to encourage employers to hire young workers, and contribute towards training;
  • Promoting productive employment opportunities in sectors that have high youth employment intensity, particularly in the agricultural sector;
  • Reduce the proportion of youth who enter the labour market prematurely and at an early age, forgoing their educational cycle;
  • Launch Youth Career Centres (YCC) [...];
  • Supply-side measures to promote and encourage youth entrepreneurship (self-employment) that facilitate in developing a vibrant youth entrepreneurial culture and develop business acumen;
  • Correcting credit market failures by introducing formal credit lending facilities that serve self- employed youth;
The 2011-2030 Strategic Development Plan adds to these measures and goals by identifying the following short – and long-term steps:
  • Establishing a Youth Fund to fund projects and programs that support our young people and their development;
  • Supporting the establishment of Youth Associations;
  • Continuing to promote the Youth Parliament;
  • Building a National Youth Centre in Dili;
  • Developing and running Leadership Training Camps to promote physical fitness, management skills, conflict resolution and civic values;
Improving existing Youth Centres and constructing multipurpose Youth Centres in all districts to provide training in areas such as languages, technology, art, music, sports and civic education.