UN moves ahead on building new, better schools in tsunami-ravaged Indonesia

Tsunami destruction on Indonesian coast

1 May 2006 – More than 230 sites have already been selected for the over 300 new permanent, earthquake-resistant schools that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has committed itself in Aceh and other areas of northern Sumatra that were devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and subsequent tsunami.

This project is part of a $90 million investment and is expected to take at least three years to complete.

Following the principle of ‘building back better,’ UNICEF is ensuring that the new schools are built to higher standards than those that existed before and that they are ‘child-friendly,’ meaning that each will have safe drinking water, separate toilets for boys and girls and access for the disabled among other facilities.

The basic design incorporates six classrooms, toilets with wash basins, a teachers’ office, landscaped outdoor play areas, and internal sliding walls between classrooms to allow teachers and the community to form a multi-purpose school hall or assembly room, the agency reported in its latest update.

Immediately after the disaster, which left around 200,000 people dead or missing, and more than half a million others homeless in Sumatra, UNICEF started distributing tent schools to ensure that children could continue their schooling as soon as possible.

To date, 1,013 school tents have been distributed benefiting 66,760 children as an interim measure. Nearly 1,150 schools were completely destroyed or severely damaged by the quake and tsunami, including 110 kindergartens, 725 elementary schools and 272 junior and senior high schools.

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