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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

UNICEF breaks ground in the construction of 300 new schools in Aceh and North Sumatra

© UNICEF Indonesia/2005/Estey
Workers begin preparing the ground for the construction of the first new school being built in tsunami-devastated Banda Aceh.

By Mervyn Fletcher

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, 29 September 2005 – Workmen began today to prepare the foundations of the first new UNICEF permanent schools in Aceh.

The builders will first pack earth, stones, sand and cement for the foundation. Heavy equipment such as bulldozers and excavators will come later in the week.

These will be the first of up to 500 permanent schools which UNICEF has committed itself to building in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, hit hard by last year’s tsunami.

This $90 million project includes building up to 300 new schools and repairing 200 badly damaged ones and is expected to last at least three years.  

The Head of UNICEF’s office in Banda Aceh, Edouard Beigbeder, said: “This massive investment in the future of Aceh’s children – their education - shows how UNICEF aims to deliver aid that is of the highest quality to them and their communities.

“These schools have been designed in consultation with local people, parents and teachers. They offer facilities that in many cases are better than those that existed before, and the duration of this project shows how UNICEF is here for the long term.”

© UNICEF Indonesia/2005/Estey
Earth, stones, sand and cement are used to lay the foundations.

Features of the schools

The first schools to be built, Muhammadiyah 1 and 2, in Merduati, Banda Aceh, will each have six classrooms. After consultation with the local community, their shared facilities will include a library, a laboratory, a multi-purpose hall, a canteen and a sports court.

They will also be child-friendly: Each school will have safe drinking water, separate toilets for boys and girls and access for the disabled.
Other features of these schools include the following:

• All the construction timber is from renewable sources;
• Open spaces are landscaped, including play areas;
• Better hygiene will be promoted by providing basins for washing hands. 

Construction of these two schools alone will cost around $450,000. UNICEF has contracted a sister United Nations organization, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), to build all the schools on its behalf.

Normally it takes about six months to build such schools. UNOPS is to use a fast-track building approach on Muhammadiyah 1 and 2, accelerating the building work.

The programme for building permanent schools is distinct from UNICEF’s project to build 200 temporary schools in Aceh and North Sumatra. The temporary schools project started earlier in the year and is already being rolled out across the tsunami-hit areas.



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