Myanmar: Education cluster sitrep - 23 Oct 2008

1. Needs Assessments and Analysis

- The Disaster Preparedness and Response Education (DPRE) working group met for the fifth time on 15 October, chaired by UNESCO and with representation from the Ministry of Education. The group has finalized its concept note and workplan for promoting disaster preparedness and response at school level, and representatives briefed the Director General of the Department of Educational Planning and Training this week. The next working group meeting will be on 29 October.

2. Overall Achievements and Response

- Very good progress has been made towards reaching targets set in the Education Cluster Response Plan (as in the Revised Appeal), and most will be achieved soon. Cluster partners are providing material support to over 2,500 schools in 21 affected townships. Up to 16 October, an estimated 504,000 girls and boys have benefited, compared with the planned target of 423,350.

- Planned distribution of materials is almost complete, in spite of the significant logistical challenges over the last six months. UNICEF expects its emergency distribution of education materials to be complete by the end of October, but plans to provide 60 additional large school tents and teaching and learning materials as further support for crowded post-primary schools. From the end of this month, UNICEF will shift its support away from blanket coverage of emergency supplies to focus on inclusion of all schools in five of the most-affected townships in the Child-Friendly Schools programme. Save the Children has identified an additional batch of schools for provision of temporary safe learning spaces (TSLS), and is reviewing schools repaired and TSLS completed earlier in the response for safety and needs for further repair. Save the Children is continuing its Phase Two until the end of March 2009, while also moving its focus from emergency response to teacher training and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), including disaster resilience and retrofitting of school buildings.

- By 16 October, 1,218 damaged schools had been repaired to be able to re-open with minimal delay, against the Cluster Response Plan (Revised Appeal) target of 1,390.

- Where schools were completely destroyed, 1,239 TSLS are being established to allow learning to continue (planned target 1,315). Planned construction is now almost fully completed (UNICEF, SC). UN Habitat plans to start building the first of 40 transitional schools this month.

- 1,686 schools have received replacement furniture to date, including around 18,200 desks, 53,100 chairs and 9,000 blackboards. Most furniture has now been provided, (UNICEF, SC, Islamic Relief) with only an order of chairs remaining in the pipeline (UNICEF).

- 2,247 school kits have been provided, as have 639 schools-in-a-box to benefit up to 51,000 children, 1,166 games kits and 666 library boxes.

- 350,517 children have received packages of basic learning materials (planned target 363,750).

- 6,739 teacher's kits have been distributed.

- 373,000 textbooks (including life-skills books) have been reprinted and to date 313,000 (84%) have been delivered to 1,857 basic education schools.

- Younger children are being supported through 357 Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres, implemented by a number of partners (planned target 520). 869 ECD kits have been distributed to a network of partners, along with 859 sets of children's books. Materials have been designed and produced to help provide psychosocial support to younger children. 286 ECCD centres/pre-schools have provided nutritional feeding to children.

- Four cluster partners have reported receiving approval for school reconstruction during the last week, including for school building designs.

- 140 teachers had been trained by 16 October. Since teacher training forms part of the recovery phase, there is some way to go towards the planned target of 9,300 teachers trained. Nonetheless, training by UNICEF and Save the Children is now in process. UNICEF has been training teachers as part of the Child-Friendly Schools programme in five affected townships during the last two weeks. However, one cluster partner is still awaiting approval for its proposed project to train 4,150 teachers in DRR.

3. Challenges

- Conditions for teaching and learning in many TSLS are far from ideal, highlighting the need for reconstruction of child-friendly permanent school buildings as early as possible.

- Repair and maintenance of TSLS needs to be assured pending completion of permanent school buildings.

- Coordination at local level still needs further strengthening. It has been reported that private donors have rebuilt schools that had previously been allocated to certain agencies by local authorities. Safety of some hastily built structures is a concern.

- The Ministry of Education's recovery plan document states that 3,476 of 4,597 schools were damaged or destroyed across seven of the most-affected townships in Ayeyarwady Division and one township in Yangon Division (Kungyangon). Of the 3,476 schools that were damaged or destroyed it had been possible to repair and reopen 2,069. However, 1,407 schools need to be rebuilt.

4. Gaps and Future Planning

- The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Rehabilitation confirmed that 13 humanitarian agencies have to date committed for the reconstruction of only 74 basic education schools (around 5% of the 1,407 needed in the eight highest priority townships alone), and has expressed concern about this significant gap and the need to move forward on reconstruction of permanent schools.

- Partners have reported gaps in financial resources for the response, especially with regards to reconstruction, and planned upgrading of temporary structures to more permanent schools.

- There is still a need for more school furniture to replace that lost, with some gaps in coverage reported, especially in some areas of Yangon Division.

- In response to significant demand, additional cross-sectoral training of trainers is planned in Yangon in November, with multiplier training at the field level. Topics include the cluster approach, information management and meeting facilitation skills.

- To date there is less centralized information available on schools outside the formal sector, for example in community (self-help) and monastic schools. The cluster is trying to address this in order to determine gaps in coverage and where more support is needed.

- The theme of the next Education Cluster meeting on 7 November is lessons learned during the 6-months of education emergency response to cyclone Nargis.

Cluster Co-Leads:

Marc Wetz (UNICEF)

Shirley Long (Save the Children)

IM Focal Point: