|© UNICEF Video|
|A boy in Killinochi, Sri Lanka, sits in a temporary classroom and uses educational materials supplied by UNICEF. Two hundred students from his school lost their life in the tsunami.|
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By Rob McBride
KILLINOCHI, Sri Lanka,15 April 2005 – With the new temporary classrooms built at the Kallaru school in Northern Sri Lanka, children can now return to their studies for the first time since December’s tsunami devastated their village. Being able to attend school is the surest indication for young people here that their lives can slowly return to normal.
From this one school alone, nearly 200 children lost their lives.
With hundreds of schools around Sri Lanka’s coast damaged and abandoned, the ongoing rebuilding of education facilities has been massive. Around 85 per cent of children living in affected areas are learning again and 200,000 children have benefited from UNICEF’s school-in-a-box programme in Sri Lanka.
UNICEF is supporting a government effort to return up to 200,000 children to school. At emergency schools like Kallaru which are now filled to overflowing, extensions are quickly being built to ease the pressure.
Volunteer teachers have also been hired to teach the influx of students. Pushpalatha is an unpaid volunteer, but she is hoping for a fulltime job as a teacher.
“This has been my first job,” she told us. “I want it to be my career.”
At another school, senior students are about to graduate, and take their place in a society which has years of re-building ahead of it.
“It’s hard coming to school,” admits one girl. “It reminds me of the brother and sister who also used to study here. They both died in the tsunami.”
Another student adds, “I lost my father and my sister and it wasn’t easy to go back to school but I wanted to get into university and studying was the only way.”
“It was difficult to come back to school”, says a third, “because I lost my mother but I knew I had to go.”
18 March 2005: UNICEF correspondent Rob McBride reports from Sri Lanka where children are returning to school after the tsunami.
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