Working together to rebuild schools after devastating cyclone
By Gina Gugliotta
Maputo, 24 October 2007 – In response to the severe damage caused to schools by Cyclone Favio in February 2007, UNICEF and the Provincial Government of Inhambane have been working together to improve the education of children throughout the province. The EU-funded recovery programme aims to rehabilitate almost 90 classrooms which were partially or completely destroyed during the cyclone and provide desks and learning materials to benefit some 20,000 children.
Cyclone Favio devastated the basic educational infrastructure in many of the districts throughout Inhambane province, leaving over 300 schools without roofs or walls, directly affecting over 45,000 children. In the aftermath of the cyclone, many classes continued to be conducted under trees or in tents provided by UNICEF during the emergency, illustrating the children’s desire to learn and teachers’ resolve to educate and instil hope even in difficult conditions.
But reconstruction was soon underway and UNICEF has worked closely with provincial and district education authorities to ensure that classroom rehabilitation has been of consistently good quality. This has been complemented by the distribution of much needed educational supplies, such as desks, learner’s kits of basic education materials and books, and blackboards.
The difference a desk can make
Vilankulos Primary School, which has approximately 2,320 students ranging from 1st to 7th grade, was one of the first schools to receive school supplies. When UNICEF arrives at the school early in the morning to observe the distribution of supplies, the school’s Director introduces us to a 2nd grade class which recently received desks. As we enter the classroom, the children stand up and start clapping.
The students are visibly happy with the new desks, as previously they would have sat on the cement or sand floor, making it difficult to write in their exercise books and in obvious discomfort. The teacher tells us that the new desks are much more comfortable and allow students to have better posture and improved physical development. “Most importantly, the desks have helped boost enthusiasm in the classroom and increase the students’ concentration,” explains the Director.
The programme will continue until all supplies have been delivered across the seven supported districts in Inhambane province by mid-December.