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UNICEF 100% Committed to Complete Additional 11 Schools

COLOMBO, 27 February 2008 - UNICEF says that it will support the Government of Sri Lanka to complete an additional 11 tsunami-affected schools in the southern and eastern provinces. It has issued a notice for expressions of interest from construction management companies, which will be published in newspapers this Sunday nationwide.

Speaking from Colombo, UNICEF’s Chief of Education, Ita Sheehy, said that there was no question that UNICEF will finish the schools, noting that it has already completed 15 schools in Sri Lanka with six more due to open by June 2008.

“We understand the frustration of the local community,” said Sheehy. “We were asked by the Ministry of Education just over a year ago to take responsibility for these additional 11 schools. We have a proven record of completion, and we are fully committed to build these new schools within a time-frame we will share with the community shortly.”

After the Ministry of Education’s request, UNICEF worked closely with the communities throughout 2007 to develop designs and to sort out land issues and other complexities that had delayed the projects.

While it was anticipated that the actual construction would begin in late 2007, an unforeseen rapid rise in construction costs in Sri Lanka overran the original budgets, forcing a redesign of the 11 schools. The new modified designs will now accord with national standards laid down by the Ministry of Education.

With an increase in the availability of local contractors, UNICEF also decided to open competitive bids in order to attract the most cost-effective builders, which has added months to the process.

Construction on the 11 schools will be in full swing by October.

The names of the 11 schools are: • Ginthota Maha Vidyalaya, Galle; Martin Wickramasinghe Vidyalaya, Galle; St. Servatius College, Matara; Mahamaya Balika Vidyalaya, Matara; Abdul Majeed Vidyala, Kinniya; St. Johns Vidyalaya, Akkaraipattu; Arunodaya Vidyalaya, Akkaraipattu; Al-Bahariya Vidyalaya, Kalmunai; Shams Central College, Maruthamunai; Sri Mamangam Vidyalaya, Kalmunai; Malharu Shams Vidyalaya, Sainthamaruthu;

In addition, UNICEF will refurbish sections of the following four health facilities as a part of its 2008 construction programme:

•Walasmulla Base Hospital, Hambantota; Balapitya Base Hospital, Galle; Beliaththa MOH office, Hambantota; Thampalagamam Rural Hospital, Trincomalee.

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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