Learning after the emergency despite odds

Education sector is one of the sectors critically affected by emergencies, UNICEF with funds from the Government of Japan is helping education in emergencies.

Kutloano Leshomo
Education sector is one of the sectors critically affected by emergencies, UNICEF with funds from the Government of Japan is helping education in emergency.
UNICEF Mozambique/2018/Kutloano Leshomo

04 June 2019

Minicane, NAMPULA - In January 2018, strong winds struck Minicane Primary School in Muecate district, Nampula province. The strong winds were a result of a tropical depression and severe thunderstorms that affected the north of Mozambique, causing heavy rains in Nampula and surrounding areas. When the winds came, Nilton Celestin, aged 16, was at home oblivious of the extent of the damage caused to his school in the wake of the winds. When he came to school the next day, four classrooms were destroyed and the corrugated sheets that used to be the roofs of the classrooms, lay mangled all over the school compound. “I was shocked and sad to see our school destroyed, the school was almost gone and we did not have a classroom”. He said.

The school also lost desks, chairs, books, shelves, a mobile library and a shade where children had meals. Only two classrooms remained standing, and one section of the teachers’ room was destroyed and is now being rebuilt. Each of the classrooms is accommodating over 100 children sitting close to each on the floor, which is so worn out that it has now been reduced to a powder of soil. Behind the classrooms, another class is going on under a tree. A few metres away, the mangled corrugated sheets have been gathered together and pushed further to the bush to make a clearing for construction of additional classrooms.

To respond to the emergency, UNICEF with funds from the Government of Japan provided the school with a tent, a school-in-a-box kit, and 460 learner kits.  Standing outside the tent which serves as their classroom, Celestin along with his peers, display their learner kits which include five exercise books, a ruler, pencil eraser and sharpener. It is obvious that the children like the novelty of studying in the tent as they linger around even after the class have ended. Celestin adds “we continued learning immediately after the winds destroyed the school when we received the tent.”

According to Tito Bonde, UNICEF’s Emergency Specialist, the education sector is one of the sectors critically affected by emergencies. Every year, about 600 schools are destroyed around the country by disasters, affecting an average of 180,000 students.  About 80 per cent of the schools is built with non-conventional materials and not resilient to weather-induced disasters. UNICEF is now engaged with partners to support the government in building classrooms with roofs resistant to strong winds.