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More than 10,000 schools in Sichuan badly damaged

7,000 schools completely destroyed in the 12 May earthquake

BEIJING, 5 June 2008 – According to data recently collected, more than 10,000 school buildings in Sichuan were badly damaged by the 12 May earthquake. Almost 7,000 schools were completely destroyed and many others suffered partial damage. UNICEF estimates that the number of school children affected is in the millions. Most of these children are now trying to continue their schooling in temporary shelters and tents. Precise figures are still very difficult to obtain.

An education assessment mission organized by Chinese authorities with UNICEF participation concluded yesterday. The purpose of the mission was to assess the situation of schools, students and teachers in Sichuan and identify urgent needs.

“We were very impressed to see government, private enterprise and volunteers working together tirelessly to set-up temporary classrooms throughout the affected area,” said David McLoughlin, Deputy Representative for the UNICEF China office, “It is very important to also ensure the supply of appropriate educational materials as well as sound facilities for water supply and sanitation.”

While no figures are available on how many school aged children are not yet back in school, resumption of formal classes has been made a top priority by education authorities. Many students have been relocated from remote communities to study in town and city school facilities. To cope with the increased number of students most schools are operating on double shifts, except for third year middle and high school classes now preparing for entrance exams. Education authorities will also bring forward the summer holiday period with an expected start of the next school year on August 1.

The most urgent education needs as identified by the mission are:

- temporary shelters and tent classrooms
- toilets and safe water facilities
- teaching and learning equipment such as books, computers, classroom supplies and sports equipment
- training of educational professionals to cope with child psychosocial stress
- school based emergency preparedness and injury prevention education

UNICEF will undertake a series of additional missions to further plan support to the Government of China to restore the education sector in Sichuan.

“We are glad to see that the government has put a priority on getting children back to school,” said Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF Representative and UN Disaster Management Team Chair in China. “This will be a great help in getting them back to a sense of normalcy.”

About UNICEF in China:
UNICEF first assisted China between 1947 and 1951, providing emergency services, food and nutrition, health and hygiene training during and after the Revolutionary War. In 1979 UNICEF officially commenced its cooperation with the Government of China to support 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 on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. 

For further information, please contact:
Dale Rutstein, UNICEF China, +86 13910973801, drutstein@unicef.org or Liu Li, UNICEF China, +86 13701066671, liliu@unicef.org
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York tel: +1 212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org





5 June 2008: UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the findings of the second UNICEF assessment mission in earthquake-affected Sichuan province, China.
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