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UNICEF Opens Third Tsunami School in Southern Sri Lanka

Funded by the German National Committee for UNICEF

COLOMBO/GALLE, 30 January 2007 – Hundreds of children along with their parents and teachers gathered today at a ceremony to mark the re-opening of a school devastated by the 2004 tsunami which struck the Indian Ocean region.

The UNICEF-built Rathgama Siri Sumana Vidyalaya for primary school children in Galle, will provide education facilities for more than 1000 children and their teachers. The tsunami wrecked large parts of the school, destroying most of the school furniture and materials, as well as the property of the surrounding community.

Immediately after the tsunami UNICEF supplied the community with emergency teaching materials, and trained a number of teachers to be able to support the psychological needs of their pupils, many of whom were traumatized by the disaster.

Speaking in Galle, UNICEF’s Representative in Sri Lanka, JoAnna Van Gerpen noted the importance of a stable and secure environment for learning when encouraging children affected by the disaster to move beyond that terrible experience.

“These new schools provide a better learning environment with larger classrooms, better equipment and more play space,” said Van Gerpen. “We’ve ensured that this ‘child-friendly’ approach is applied to all school reconstruction in all tsunami affected areas, and it also serves as a model for modern educational standards across the nation.”

This is the third project completed under the UNICEF Schools Infrastructure Reconstruction Programme, in cooperation with Ministry of Education and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The programme will rebuild a total of 35 schools which were destroyed or heavily damaged by the tsunami in December 2004 as well as a number of schools that received resettled children. It will benefit approximately 20,000 children and teachers across the country.

UNICEF has been working throughout the nation as one of the Government of Sri Lanka’s principal development partners since 1969. UNICEF operates in more than 100 district secretariat divisions in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation, and the protection of vulnerable children.

For more information please contact:

Gordon Weiss, Communication Officer, UNICEF Sri Lanka, Mobile: 94-777416742, Office: 94-11-2555270 ext 250

Suzanne Davey, Communication Assistant, UNICEF Sri Lanka, Office: 94-11-2555270 ext 247



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