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UNICEF opens standard-setting schools in Indonesia’s Aceh

BANDA ACEH, 18 September 2006 - The first of 367 permanent schools for Aceh and Nias were officially opened on Monday with support from UNICEF.
The schools, called Muhammadiyah 1 and 2, will set new standards in child-friendly design and earthquake resistance in the tsunami ravaged province of Aceh. 
Each school has a teachers’ room and a laboratory.  It also has six classrooms, each measuring a spacious 56 square meters.  The design accommodates up to 30 children in a standard classroom setting with furnishings, lighting and a small sink with clean, running water so children can wash their hands and practice hygienic behaviour at a young age.
UNICEF's head of Aceh and Nias, Edouard Beigbeder, said, “the opening of Muhammadiyah 1 and 2 is a milestone for UNICEF.  We will ensure a thorough job is done and we will not compromise on safety and quality.”

These two schools are part of a USD90 million dollar investment UNICEF has agreed with the Indonesian government.  It will mean 367 permanent schools in total will be built in Aceh and Nias and it represents the largest school reconstruction project across the region. This year, 20 more permanent schools are under construction and 74 are under tender.

UNICEF has already built over 140 semi-permanent schools which provide an important "stop gap" until the permanent schools are up and running.
“Child friendly” schools mean having a stimulating learning environment and facilities such as clean, running water for pupils, separate toilets for boys and girls and access for the disabled, including wheelchair ramps.

Muhammadiyah 1 and 2 share a sports court, an assembly hall with a podium and a library.  UNICEF also supplied chairs, desks and high quality teaching equipment.

The schools have been built by the United Nations Office for Project Services to resist severe earthquakes, setting a new safety standard in Indonesia.  All construction timber is from legal, renewable sources.

About 200 children currently study in the two-story Muhammadiyah buildings in the centre of what has become a bustling capital again, Banda Aceh.  This number is expected to rise. 

"We’re delighted,” said Mrs. Zahira, the principal of Muhammadiyah 1.  “The students cannot wait to use the classrooms and facilities.  The library is being stocked and is almost ready to be used.”

UNICEF is strongly promoting earthquake-resistant and child-friendly standards in school construction and this has become a model for others to follow in Indonesia since the 2004 tsunami and earthquake.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Lely Djuhari, UNICEF Media, Tel + 62 811 802 338 or Mervyn Fletcher, Tel + 62 811 98 7296




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