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Dominica schools slowly reopening after devastating hurricane

Dominica schools slowly reopening after devastating hurricane

DOMINICA, 31 October 2017 - As Shanese Daway and other Grade Six students at Newton Primary School settle into their classroom, it is clear it is not business as usual.

It is the first time in six weeks that the nearly 300 students at the school, just on the outskirts of the capital Roseau, have seen the inside of their classroom. The last time was the morning of 18 September, the same day the powerful category five Hurricane Maria ploughed into their mountainous island, disrupting every aspect of their lives.

“I’m excited to be back at school and to see my friends again. At home was very boring. Education is very important. I have a sister who went to this same school and got a scholarship and I consider her to be my role model,” says 11-year-old Shanese, who has been president of the school’s students’ council for the past two years.

So far almost 1,000 of the 13,800 primary and secondary school students have returned to the classroom as over a third of the 67 state-owned schools reopened their doors.  However, some institutions still cannot cater for the full school population as repairs have yet to be done to some classrooms.

A work in progress

Chief Education Officer Melena Fortune says it is a work in progress and more and more schools will open their doors over the coming days, paving the way for a larger percentage of children to resume their education.

A major hurdle for education officials remains the fact that 17 schools continue to be used as shelters as over 2,000 residents who lost their homes in the hurricane have not been able to find alternative living arrangements.

The majority of students lost everything, including school books and uniforms in the hurricane, prompting a Ministry of Education decision that school uniforms would not be a requirement for school attendance.

UNICEF is assisting the Ministry in the resumption of education through provision of water and sanitation at some schools, as well as tents and school materials.

“The return to school is a milestone in the recovery phase in Dominica. It is an exciting moment for all the country, not just for children and adolescents. It is an unique opportunity to rebuild a new and even more solid and resilent education system and we are starting right now,” says UNICEF Education Manager Unai Sacona.

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About UNICEF
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.
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For more information, please contact:
Patrick Knight, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Office for the Eastern Caribbean Area Phone: 246 467-6162 pknight@unicef.org

 

 
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