|© UNICEF Indonesia/2007|
|Reconstruction agency director Kuntoro Mangkusubroto surrounded by the students of SDN 15, the newest school to open in Banda Aceh.|
By Anna K. Stechert
ACEH AND NIAS, Indonesia, 11 October 2007 – UNICEF has built more than 50 schools since opening its first permanent education facility in tsunami-stricken Banda Aceh a year ago.
To commemorate this significant achievement, UNICEF, the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Executing Agency, students and teachers, school principals, community members and representatives of the Aceh provincial government recently celebrated at the newly finished SDN 17 school.
“I love my new school!” one student, Budhi, said excitedly when she saw her new classroom on the second floor. “It’s so clean and big. I think I will really like studying here!” Like all of the schools built with UNICEF’s support, SDN 17 has spacious classrooms, separate toilets for boys and girls, and a large courtyard.
A step towards normalcy
The new permanent schools also set new standards in earthquake resistance. To the community around SDN 17, their new two-storey building is an important step towards a normal life.
Almost three years ago, the devastating tsunami triggered by an earthquake under the Indian Ocean washed away the original school. Most of its students died in the tsunami disaster as well.
|© UNICEF Indonesia/2007|
|UNICEF Chief Field Officer in Aceh and Nias Edouard Beigbeder shows photos of completed schools to reconstruction agency director Kuntoro Mangkusubroto as UNICEF Representative in Indonesia Gianfranco Rotigliano looks on.|
The three classrooms of a semi-permanent school, where children studied while construction was ongoing, will be used as a community meeting room, a health clinic and a playroom.
The 50-plus completed schools are part of UNICEF’s ongoing effort to provide basic education to all elementary students in Aceh and Nias. Over 100 additional schools are being built and 55 are up for tender.
A proper learning environment
“Together we have made it already possible for the students of 52 schools to study in a safe and proper environment,” UNICEF Representative in Indonesia Gianfranco Rotigliano said at the celebration. “We will continue our work to make sure all children in Aceh and Nias have a good school to study in.”
To reach the most vulnerable children, UNICEF has expanded its construction programme to include six conflict-affected districts in Aceh and Nias; the organization is now working in a total of 13 districts.
“We will not leave children behind just because they live in very remote areas,” said Mr. Rotigliano. “In the six added districts, school enrolment and school access are extremely low. Every child has a right to basic education, and we will make sure this right gets fulfilled also for the children in conflict-affected areas.”
Tsunami stories from Indonesia