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Children affected by Typhoon Yolanda get back to school

©UNICEF Philippines/2013/GHenneka
Hermelinda Caibio teaches a Grade 2 class in a new temporary classroom set up by the Department of Education at San Roque School in Tanauan, Leyte.

TACLOBAN, Philippines, 6 January 2014 – Today marks the official re-opening of schools in the typhoon-affected areas.

UNICEF and cluster partners, including Save the Children and INTERSOS, are supporting the Back to Learning Campaign of the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The campaign is supporting 550,000 children, teachers and day care workers to return to school and learning in the typhoon-affected regions. In addition, 3,000 classrooms are being made functional through urgent repairs as well as through the establishment of tents and makeshift learning spaces. Furthermore, the campaign aims to provide 500,000 children with school and recreational supplies and 10,000 teachers and day care workers with training on emergency-related topics. 

Psychosocial support for both teachers and students is a key area of intervention for the campaign. Teachers and day care workers will be reached through psychosocial programmes focusing on how teachers can support children who have been traumatised and also working directly with Parent-Teacher Associations to include parents in understanding special needs of their children in this post-typhoon period. Special attention will be paid to life skills programmes, for example health promotion and sanitation and good hygiene practices. One of the key components of the back to learning initiative is to encourage teachers to better use the advantages of a context-appropriate curriculum within government guidelines.

"Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda wreaked havoc on children's lives," says Dr. Luisa Yu, The Department of Education Director for Region VIII, "It's our hope that children returning to school and day care centres will have a sense of routine, and a safe place during the day to be with friends where they can continue to learn and enjoy safe play." With children back in school, parents will have more time to attend to rebuilding their houses as well as their livelihood.

By re-establishing a daily routine and helping to restore a sense of normalcy, schools become safe spaces in the aftermath of major destruction for both teachers and children. Education is not only a basic human right, but a tool for recovery. UNICEF considers education an integral part of any humanitarian response to an emergency.

"UNICEF's objective is to ensure that children affected by Typhoon Yolanda return to quality learning as quickly as possible," said Angela Kearney, Officer-in-Charge of UNICEF Philippines. The Back to Learning Campaign will continue throughout the year and potentially beyond, in order to ensure that all children in the Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda affected areas are given the chance to return to school.

For further information, please contact: 

Mario Deriquito, Undersecretary of Department of Education, Manila, Tel: +63 2 633 7207,

Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Philippines in Manila, Tel: +63 2 901 0177, Mobile: +63 917 867 8366,

Diana Valcarcel, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Philippines in Tacloban, Mobile: +63 915 266 6081, +63 947 784 7169,



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