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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Child-friendly schools set stage for quality education in post-tsunami rural Indonesia

UNICEF Image: Indonesia: tsunami recovery
© UNICEF HQ06-1963/Estey
The brand new Kampong Baro Primary School in Calang, Indonesia, built after the tsunami, is equipped with improved facilities to be more child-friendly.

By Edith Johnson

CALANG, Indonesia, December 2006 – It’s the first day of school for children of Kampong Baro, a fishing village on the west coast of Sumatra island. Early in the morning, Mourie Yuniar, 10, gets ready and joins other children in her neighbourhood heading to their brand new school.

The 2004 tsunami disaster killed nearly a quarter of the area’s population, including Mourie’s father. The waves swept away villages along the coast of Sumatra, leaving 40,000 people homeless.

Two years later, recovery efforts are showing results. Mourie, her mother and her brother recently moved into a new house where she planted flowers in front. Now she is going to the new village school.

UNICEF Image: Indonesia: tsunami recovery
© UNICEF HQ06-1976/Estey
Children at Kampong Baro Primary School move furniture from one temporary classroom to their new classroom.

New schools with improved facilities
As children gather outside the school, excited laughter swells. For the past year, the students have been attending class at an overcrowded temporary school where several classes were often held in the same classroom.

“Our new school is better, it’s breezy with lots of sunlight,” says Mourie. “Now it’s just my class in the room, so we’re not distracted by the other group reciting or the other teacher talking about their lessons.”

Kampong Baro is one of more than 360 permanent schools UNICEF has helped to build across Aceh and on Nias Island in North Sumatra. The quake-resistant schools feature improved facilities, including clean water, separate toilets for boys and girls, and access for the disabled.

© UNICEF HQ06-1976/Estey
Children studying at the new Kampong Baro Primary School in Calang, Indonesia.

Hoping to attract more students

The schools are also child-friendly: Door handles are low and bathrooms have water basins that even younger children can reach. Even before the disaster, children here rarely went to school because of fighting between Acehnese rebels and the military. Now, with new permanent schools, teachers hope to attract more students to attend class.

“We plan to engage the parents to become more active in the school activities,” says Kampong Baro Primary School teacher Ibu Salami. “Together with them, we hope to improve the quality of education and build more interest than before.”

Headmaster Muhammad Ali adds: “As parents in the area get to know the school, they’ll want to send their children here. I’ll be holding education meetings here regularly. We want to become a model school in this district.”

Along with her classmates, Mouri is enjoying a privilege she lacked even before the tsunami – access to a quality education. She loves drawing classes and dreams of becoming a teacher when she grows up.




December 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Steve Nettleton reports on the new child-friendly school built in tsunami-damaged Calang, Indonesia.
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