NEW YORK, 2 June 2003 – The Government of Japan this week donated $10.2 million to UNICEF to support the reopening of schools across the country, bringing its total contributions to UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts in Iraq to more than $15 million and making Japan the leading governmental donor to UNICEF’s appeal for Iraqi children so far.
“We are delighted that Japan has responded so quickly and so generously to the urgent needs of Iraqi children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. “The needs are very urgent and we are grateful for this strong and early support.”
Reactivating the primary education system is one of the most immediate needs in post-war Iraq. UNICEF has made getting children back into a school an urgent priority.
Most of Iraq’s 8,500 schools need repairs or clean-up, and another 5,000 need to be built to accommodate all of Iraq’s 12 million school-age children. At present, a shortage of safe school facilities and trained teachers force many schools to operate on shifts. Poor hygiene and sanitation in primary schools is also a serious concern; less than half of all primary schools have access to potable water.
UNICEF has begun delivering the first of more than 50,000 “school-in-a-box” kits to classrooms across the country. Each kit contains learning supplies and teaching aids to meet the needs of 80 children. When the deliveries are finished, UNICEF will have provided supplies like pencils, notepads and slate boards for some 4 million children in primary schools.
Japan’s latest gift will support education, helping more than 1 million children in three cities. About $3.5 million of donation will be used to help rehabilitate 70 schools– 30 in Baghdad and 40 in the south of the country. The bulk of the funds, some $6.2 million, will buy teaching and learning supplies.
Almost $700,000 will go towards teacher training to improve the quality of teachers’ skills by updating it with child-centered methodologies. Child -centered methodologies will foster an approach encouraging students’ active participation in the learning process, discouraging the outdated top-down approach which has been the mainstay of the Iraqi education system.
Other major donors to UNICEF’s relief efforts in Iraq include the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, and the European Union.
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