MALE, MALDIVES, 31 December 2004 - Hundreds of schools in the Maldives are now known to have been damaged by the Asian tsunami that struck the archipelago.
On the worst affected islands, only debris is left. On other islands, school furniture, equipments and books have been completely washed away. Schools were closed for a year-end break when the disaster occurred. It is unlikely that many of these schools will now be able to open at the start of the academic year.
“This is a massive set back for children and education in the Maldives’, said Tom Bergmann-Harris, the UNICEF representative in the Maldives ‘After so much trauma and destruction it is vital that children get back to some sort of normality and school should be part of that.”
Mr. Bergmann-Harris has over flown some of the worst affected islands.
According to government estimates as of 30 December there were 9,000 evacuees and 12,000 homeless people across the archipelago. Some 859 people were brought to Male while 13 islands have had to be abandoned.
“We are collecting more information on the extent of damage,” says Abdullah Salih, Director General at the Ministry of Education. “We have set the target to open schools by the first week of February. In islands where some schools are intact or in usable condition, we will try to enroll more children in these schools and classes will take place in two or more shifts. In other areas, we will also identify sites where we can create temporary schools.” says Salih.
For more information contact, please contact:
In the Maldives: Binita Shah, Asst. Communication Officer
Tel: 960-784196 (mobile), 960-322017
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