UNICEF to support education of tsunami-affected children

[TamilNet, Monday, 10 January 2005, 23:01 GMT]
Some of the undamaged schools in the tsunami devastated regions reopened on Monday together with the rest of the schools in the country after the New Year break. Most of the children affected by the tsunami will be starting their lessons with the "school-in-a-box" kits provided by UNICEF. This is the first phase of a comprehensive programme planned by UNICEF together with the ministry of education to get all the children affected by the tsunami back into schools as soon as possible.

"Getting children back to school represents perhaps the single most effective remedy in helping them cope with the enormity of the catastrophe that has so radically altered their lives. UNICEF will support the Ministry of Education in its work to bring all children back into classrooms as soon as possible.‰ said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative."

"Around 170 schools serving almost 77,000 children have been either damaged or destroyed, and over 260 schools are housing close to 300,000 people displaced by the tsunami. In order for schools to reopen, people now living there must first find safe, alternative shelters, equipped with adequate facilities and services. Decisions on relocations need to be made in conjunction with the affected people, and they need to include special protection for those who are especially vulnerable - particularly unaccompanied and separated children." Chaiban said.

"One hundred 'School-in-a-box' kits - each containing exercise books, pencils, chalk and teaching aids for 80 students and their instructors - have been distributed to Galle, Ampara and Mullaittivu, the worst-affected areas in the country. Nearly 3000 education kits, along with basic classroom furniture and tents, will be distributed to affected schools and districts. UNICEF will work to reach a total of 200,000 children with educational supplies by 25 January." Chaiban said.

"The emergency education kits are an important first step in the huge task of making sure that children can get back to schooling as quickly as possible. It is part of a much longer, larger process of repairing, rebuilding and rehabilitating schools," Chaiban said.

UNICEF Sri Lanka reacted within hours of the disaster as staff in the affected districts began immediate relief work. The organization emptied its contingency warehouse of kits designed to help families cope in the event of an emergency and sent them to the south, north and east. UNICEF provided hospital supplies for a 150,000 within six days of the disaster and is now working on providing clean water and emergency sanitation for the estimated 500,000 displaced people. UNICEF has been working with the authorities to identify and register unaccompanied and separated children, provide them with additional protection and trace their relatives. Kits containing sport and play equipment have also been distributed to many of the camps so traumatised children can reclaim something of their childhood.

 

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