Indonesia: School construction in Banda Aceh kicks off as six month mark nears

JAKARTA, 16 June 2005 - Work has started on a fast-track building programme that will see two hundred temporary schools built in one month across the tsunami-damaged region of Aceh, UNICEF said today.

Up to 42,000 children will be educated in the temporary buildings, which are costing $11,500 each to build.

This rapid construction schedule is a joint UNICEF initiative with the Indonesian Government and other aid agencies. It means the children will be able to leave their emergency classrooms, which are large tents.

The aim is to have the schools ready for the new term which starts on July 18. The construction of 200 temporary buildings is the precursor to a $90 million UNICEF programme to rebuild and renovate a total of 500 schools across Aceh, all to earthquake-resistant standards.

UNICEF's Head of Banda Aceh office, Edouard Beigbeder, said: "The temporary schools building programme is an example of how organizations such as UNICEF are providing the springboard for Aceh to recover from the traumatic events of six months ago.

"We worked hard to make sure the education of the children here was not another victim of the tsunami. The big plus in this project is that these temporary schools will be very useful to their local communities even when we have moved the pupils on to what will be their proper new schools. This will take place over the next couple or so years", said Beigbeder. "Each temporary structure will last many years and, once the children have moved on, it can be used as a community centre, health clinic or even a library."

UNICEF has contracted the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to carry out the building work. Each of the temporary schools will have three classrooms and they are designed to withstand serious earthquakes. They are built using concrete panels and at each site 30 trees will be planted.

As part of UNICEF's 'Back to School' campaign for the new academic year, starting next month, UNICEF has also paid for:

- The recruitment and initial training of 1,200 new teachers.

- 230,000 sets of textbooks

- 830,000 sets of school materials(including pens, notebooks, pencils and crayons)

Until now Acehnese children in the tsunami-damaged areas have continued their education in schools consisting of large tents. These emergency schools were put up within a few weeks, minimising the period of interruption to the school term.

Before the tsumani struck there were more than half-a-million primary school children in the 13 affected districts in Aceh. All of them have been affected in some way.

Tens of thousands of school pupils are still missing, and more than a hundred thousand Aceh children are homeless.

In addition, the Indonesian Ministry of National Education announced that more than 2,500 teachers were killed. Many of them who survived also lost family members and their homes.

For more information, please contact:

Mervyn Fletcher UNICEF Media + 62 811 987296

Lely Djuhari UNICEF Media + 62 811 802338

UNICEF Banda Aceh office + 62 651 740 7651