First tent school opened for children living in relief camps
By Michael Bociurkiw
MUZAFFARABAD -- For the first time since a massive earthquake struck northern Pakistan more than two weeks ago, the sound of school children has begun to fill the air of squalid tent enclaves.Earlier this week the first tent school to go up in Muzaffarabad - a city 90 percent destroyed – opened in a small tent enclave across the street from the destroyed Ministry of Education complex. It serves a community of several dozen extremely impoverished displaced families from urban and mountainous areas. And in displaced persons camps in the neighboring Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) one tent school was opened Wednesday, with three more on the way by the weekend. UNICEF supported the schools with five school-in-a-box kits, teacher training, school bags and health and nutrition training. This is building an educational system from scratch. With thousands of schools flattened, hundreds of teachers killed and a government infrastructure literally flattened by the huge quake. The few schools that are still standing have been declared dangerous and unusable. Aid workers say just finding ministry staff to discuss the massive task of rebuilding is a challenge in itself. The bodies of civil servants are still being pulled out of the office ruble and meetings have to take place in an open courtyard. A tent school across the Ministry building opened Monday and was the first of five to spring up in the 19 tent enclaves in Muzaffarabad. Parents – already distressed by homelessness – say having their kids in class gives them time to focus on one thing – survival and rebuilding.