Tsunami-Affected Children in Southern Sri Lanka Prepare to Return to School in New Buildings Supported by the German Committee for UNICEF

Colombo, 17 August 2006 - More than 300 children, teachers and parents will witness today the opening of a new building at Balapitiya Siddartha Primary School in Galle, southern Sri Lanka. This is the first school building completed under UNICEF-supported Schools Infrastructure Reconstruction Programme.

The programme aims to rebuild a total of 35 schools destroyed or badly damaged by the Indian Ocean tsunami, benefiting more than 20,000 children and teachers across the country. UNICEF supports the programme in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, while United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) manages the construction.

Approximately three hundred children at the Balapitiya Siddhartha Primary School are now able to learn and enjoy themselves in 14 new classrooms, a play room and an activity room. New water and sanitation facilities have been provided along with a canteen, administration block and assembly hall. These facilities were designed to create a child friendly learning environment where interactive teaching and child participation help children fully develop their potentials. This child friendly approach is applied to all school reconstruction under this UNICEF-supported reconstruction programme.

According to UNICEF’s Representative in Sri Lanka, JoAnna Van Gerpen, school reconstruction is of particular imporatance as it provides a stable and safe environment for children to learn and play and move past the effects of the tsunami.

“Immediately following the tsunami, UNICEF built temporary class rooms so that children were able to resume study and play as quickly as possible. We are glad that the permanent school buildings, with better equipment and more space, are now also serving the needs of Sri Lankan children,” she said.

“Similar schools are being made ready for children in the coming months. However this is only the beginning. It is up to children, teachers and all concerned to make this school as truly child-friendly and provide quality education,” she added.

Reconstruction of Balapitiya Siddartha school is financially supported by the people of Germany and the German National Committee for UNICEF, one of 37 committees from around the world that raise funds to support UNICEF’s work for children globally. The Committee donated US six million dollars to support the reconstruction of five schools in Galle, Jaffna and Batticaloa.

For more information please contact:

Junko Mitani, Communication Officer, UNICEF Sri Lanka, Mobile: 94-0-777416742, Office: 94-11-2555270 ext 250

Harasha Gunewardena, Media Consultant, UNICEF Sri Lanka, Mobile 94-0-773733781



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