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Panorama: Filipinas

Return to normalcy depends on schools

Imagen del UNICEF
© UNICEF Philippines/2004
Four devastating storms have left most of the province of Aurora without basic services such as electricity

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By Alexis Rodrigo

MAKATI CITY, Philippines, 10 December 2004 - UNICEF today appealed for the immediate reconstruction of schools and day care centers in storm-damaged areas of the Philippines. The country is currently recovering from an onslaught of typhoons and other storms in late November and early December.

“While we are responding to children’s urgent needs for health care, proper nutrition and access to safe water, it is also important that children are able to resume schooling as soon as possible,” said UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Nicholas Alipui. “The sooner children are able to return to a normal life, the better for their overall recovery, including from emotional trauma.”

The Department of Education estimated the storms’ damage to school buildings at $6 million.

UNICEF has already begun distributing $100,000 worth of relief goods including food, shelter, clothing, and medicines. The organization has appealed for an additional $800,000 for relief work in the Philippines.

Some of these funds will be used to provide desks, chairs, notebooks, crayons, books, backpacks, educational toys and learning materials.

Imagen del UNICEF
© UNICEF Philippines/2004
Storm damage in the province of Aurora

“These simple, inexpensive items can mean the difference between a child who will continue to go to school in spite of the devastation, and a child who will drop out,” Alipui said.

UNICEF expects to be able to help 6,000 preschool and 10,000 elementary-school children to resume their schooling.

Schools in the provinces of Quezon and Aurora suffered the worst damage. In Aurora, the UN assessment team found that most schools had been submerged under water and mud, and a few were damaged beyond repair.

In addition to the repairs or reconstruction needed for school buildings, essential items such as desks, chairs, textbooks and other supplies must be replaced.

Aurora officials say some schools can reopen only in January 2005. When schools do reopen, many classes will have to share a limited number of classrooms, since some are still being used as evacuation centers.

Most of the province of Aurora is still without electricity, and it may take months to restore power.





13 December 2004: Dr. Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Country Representative for the Philippines, talks about UNICEF’s efforts to bring normalcy back to children’s lives after a series of typhoons and storms