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UNICEF to focus on damaged schools


MEDIA RELEASE

UNICEF to focus on damaged schools
in unreached areas of Myanmar

Yangon, 28 May 2008 – Responding to a request for assistance from the Government of Myanmar, UNICEF will work with the Ministry of Education to reopen schools in some cyclone-affected areas by 2 June. The focus will be on damaged and collapsed schools in areas which have not been reached by aid agencies.

Due to the extent of damage in the hardest hit areas, the Ministry of Education has delayed the opening of schools in seven townships in the Irrawaddy division and one township in Yangon division to start a month later.

In areas where classes will resume as scheduled on 2 June, UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, and the communities have been working together to distribute repair materials to schools either damaged or completely destroyed by the cyclone. Essential school supplies, learning materials and recreational kits for primary schools have also been distributed.

More than 4,000 basic education schools affecting approximately 1.1 million children were either damaged or totally destroyed.

“In any disaster affecting entire communities, the opening of local schools is an important step in the recovery process. Children particularly rely on their daily routines for a sense of security, including the routine of attending school,” said Ramesh Shrestha, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar.
Across the cyclone-affected areas of Myanmar, UNICEF is providing 100,000 essential learning packages for affected children, text books for 150,000 children, 2,000 school kits for affected schools, and 200,000 roofing sheets and construction kits for repairing schools. UNICEF will also provide tents, tarpaulins and support the establishment of at least 1,000 temporary safe learning spaces. Sites for the temporary learning spaces are determined by the schools and communities.

To support children’s psychosocial needs, the “Let’s Read Initiative” children’s books that were produced in 2006 to help build children’s resiliency will be reprinted and distributed to all grades in affected schools.

The very young are also catered to in UNICEF’s Back-to-School initiative. Through its NGO partners, UNICEF supports early childhood development (ECD) centres and caregiver circles by distributing early childhood development kits. The repair of damaged centres will also be supported. The caregiver circles are designed for children under the age of three and their families by providing early stimulation and care, feeding and parenting programmes. ECD centres cater for the early learning and development of children aged three to five.

Reestablishing non-formal education activities for out-of-school children is another priority for UNICEF, which soon will distribute non-formal education kit to 3,000 out-of-school children affected by the disaster.

Parents traditionally place a high value on education in Myanmar: the estimated national primary school net enrolment rate is 82% for both boys and girls. Education is considered a priority across different socio-economic, ethnic and political groupings, and among all levels of society.

ENDS

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