Learning Continues for Children Affected by Floods in Pakistan
UNICEF provides High Performance Tents to ensure safe learning environment for children of flood-affected communities in South Punjab
Rajanpur district, South Punjab - Engrossed in her class work, Farzana (12) attends a lesson along with fellow students in the Temporary Learning Center (TLC) established in a High-Performance Tent (HPT) provided by UNICEF.
Excited and jubilant, Farzana is happy to be learning again after an unwanted break in her studies due to the devastating floods in Pakistan, nearly six months ago.
Massive floods that hit Pakistan in August last year, engulfed nearly 90 per cent of the area in the Rajanpur district of South Punjab, damaging the infrastructure and livelihood severely.
Ambitious to become a doctor, Farzana, is a grade three student in the TLC established in the flood-affected premises of the Government Girls’ Primary School, Chak Dilber, Rajanpur district.
“There was water everywhere in our village,” says Farzana recounting the ordeal of floods. “We shifted to Rahim Yar Khan, a nearby city, for a few months. When we returned, there was mud and dirt all around the village. Every house was damaged, and my school building had partially collapsed. I was very worried about my education.”
“The flood almost shattered my dream of becoming a doctor. I thought I may never go to school again. But then, UNICEF made a school for us in this tent. We got new school bags, books, notebooks and everything we needed. My friends and I are very happy to be studying again.”
Farzana and her parents, Jan Muhammad and Sahiba Bibi, live on an agricultural farm in Chak Dilber – a village and community badly affected by the floods.
Narrating the hardship faced due to floods, Jan Muhammed recalls, “When the water came, we had to leave everything behind and rush to a safer location. When we returned after a few weeks, our house was not liveable. Surviving in these conditions has been a challenge but we are gradually getting back on our feet.”
“We have two daughters and we are keen to educate them. They couldn’t go to school for few months, but we are happy that a school has now been established. It is in a very nice tent. The children are happy and feel safe.”
Farzana’s mother Sahiba Bibi, who is equally keen about her daughter’s education and future. “We are poor people but don’t want our children to suffer because of it. We will do everything possible to educate Farzana so she could become a doctor. It is not only her dream but our dream too,” she exclaims.
At the TLC Chak Dilber, Shabana Mazari is the head teacher. Experienced, devoted and belonging to the local community, she is focused on ensuring that children catch up for the time lost due to floods, in terms of their education.
“The school building was damaged and could be dangerous for children to take classes inside,” explains Shabana. “I managed to have some of the school area cleaned and motivated children to resume learning. Some of the parents had to be convinced to let children attend school as they were concerned about their safety.”
“Initially, only a few students started coming and they would sit in the open. It was tough for them and for us too. When UNICEF provided the HPT along with teaching and learning supplies, it was an absolute joy for all of us. The number of students in the TLC increased tremendously.”
The HPT with its unique features has a lot to do with children resuming their studies. It is airy, spacious and equally suitable for all seasons. It is carpeted and decorated with charts and drawings of children, providing a comfortable learning environment.
To support the Government of Punjab’s efforts for restoring educational activities in the affected areas, UNICEF through its implementing partner Sanjh Preet Organization, is providing HPTs and school supplies in the two affected districts, Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. The supplies include school bags, stationary, table and chair for teachers, school in a box, recreational kits, floor mats water coolers and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) kits for adolescent girls.
A total of 540 schools were damaged in Rajanpur district due to floods. UNICEF has so far provided 87 HPTs to the damaged schools so that children could continue their education till their schools are renovated and functional. These HPTs are making a huge difference in the lives of children who can continue to learn in a conducive environment.