By Thawdar Aung Kyi (MRCS) in Myanmar
A brand new school is in session in Kyon Tar village in the Ayeyarwady Delta, and students and teachers alike are engrossed in their lessons. The basic education middle school in this village consists of two buildings with spacious classrooms, new furniture and equipment, and much more. Students and teachers readily break into smiles when asked about their new school.
“In my 30 years of teaching, I never dreamt of such a nice building,” says Daw Aye Aye Myint. As for the students, their approval is evident in a host of responses:
“We like the new school better than the old one because we are happy here!”
“We like the furniture.”
“This school is bigger than the old one!”
The school was constructed with the support of the Myanmar Red Cross Society as part of its recovery operation assisting communities affected by Cyclone Nargis, which devastated the Delta three years ago. Completed in mid-2010, the school was constructed to ease the overcrowding that resulted when the pre-existing village school was damaged by the cyclone.
Daw Win Win Tin, headmistress of the old school, explains that prior to the cyclone, the village school housed 700 students in two buildings. When Cyclone Nargis struck Kyon Tar, which is located in the township of Pyapon, both buildings were damaged, and only one could be reconstructed. This resulted in 700 students cramped in one building; the new school in Kyone Tar has been a welcome relief to everyone at the school. The school at Kyon Tar reaches out far beyond this village, catering for students from 13 surrounding villages.
There are a number of reasons why the new school building has impressed students, teachers, the community at large, and even the education authorities. The school features design and specifications of a much higher standard than schools normally do, including reinforced concrete frames and floors raised five feet above ground level. The building has been designed to resist the storms, floods and earthquakes that are prevalent in the region, and as such can also serve as a shelter or evacuation centre when needed.
Other features include a rainwater collection tank, a deep tube well, and latrines. The school has also been provided with a grant for fencing, landscaping and playground equipment. The fund is managed by the school committee chaired by the head teacher.
There are 24 other schools which have been constructed as part of the Myanmar Red Cross Society’s school construction project conducted with the support of the IFRC. The schools are located in the townships of Pyapon and Bogale. Apart from the standard package of fixtures provided by the Myanmar Red Cross Society and IFRC, solar panels have been installed at some schools by individual building contractors.
An additional 64 schools have been constructed by the Myanmar Red Cross Society in cyclone-affected townships with the support of the Japanese Red Cross Society, Singapore Red Cross, Taiwan Red Cross Organization and Magen David Adom in Israel.