Back to school in the Maldives

News and Press Release
Originally published
Fifteen Australian Volunteer teachers have been recruited to work in the Maldives to help rebuild communities devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

As well as being experienced teachers, most have experience in counselling and have worked in developing countries. Some have come out of retirement for this six month assignment.

The group was recruited in January following a specific commitment by Australian Prime Minister John Howard to the Maldives. The project is being coordinated by the Australian Government's overseas aid agency, AusAID.

More than 100,000 people were severely affected by the tsunami in the remote islands that make up the Maldives; 13,000 people were internally displaced and at least 74 died.

The Australian Volunteer teachers are led by Alan Davis, who is principal of Newcomb Secondary College in Geelong (south-west of Melbourne). For Mr Davis, it's a chance to help old friends. He and his wife, Beverly, were the first teachers sent by Australian Volunteers International to work in the Maldives, in 1978.

Speaking on Monday 24 January at the farewell for the first group of teachers to depart, Mr Davis said that a large number of children were affected by the tsunami and their families were traumatised.

"Their schools and homes have been destroyed, and many of their teachers have not been able to return."

Mr Davis said the immediate task of the group was to help reopen schools and ensure that children returned to daily routines as soon as possible.