Over 100 Schools Now Constructed by UNICEF Pakistan in Response to the 2005 Earthquake
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – More than 100 new schools have now been constructed and handed over to the government in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), in an initiative by UNICEF and Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Recovery Authority (ERRA) to “build back better” in areas where schools were destroyed in the 2005 earthquake. An additional 186 schools are expected to be completed by the end of 2010.
In the effort to “build back better,” the new schools have been constructed to high international standards. They are earthquake-safe, child-friendly and built to specifications that are proven to get more children into school, keep them there and help them learn. About 13,000 children are now attending the newly built schools.
“Our real aim is to ensure that children receive the best education possible,” says Syed Fawad Ali Shah, UNICEF Pakistan Emergency Education Officer. “Teachers at the schools have been trained in child-friendly teaching methods that promote interactive learning and ban corporal punishment, and that support and empower children as they learn.”
The October 2005 killed at least 17,000 students and about 900 teachers in classrooms and had a devastating effect on school buildings and infrastructure. According to government estimates, approximately 6,000 primary and secondary schools were damaged or destroyed (which represented 52 per cent of the total number of schools).
The new schools are more spacious – with at least one square metre of classroom space per child – and they promote good hygiene through handwashing stations and separate toilets for girls and boys. They are also fully furnished with desks and tables for students and teachers.
“There is no greater investment in the future of a country than an investment in the education of the children” says Luc Chauvin, UNICEF Pakistan Deputy Representative. “In partnership with ERRA, the Ministry of Education and provincial authorities, we have not just constructed schools, but have taken an important step toward ensuring that children in the areas affected by the 2005 earthquake have access to higher-quality education than ever before.”
The main donors for the school reconstruction programme are the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the European Commission.