Archive | December, 2013

Podcast #89: Year-end wrap on Beyond School Books: building a peaceful society through education

By Rudina Vojvoda

© UNICEF/UKLA2013-00780/Karin Schermbrucker Iraq, 2013
Children sit at the Child Friendly Space (CFS) in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq.

NEW YORK, USA, 26 December, 2013 – In this year-end episode of Beyond School Books, we bring you perspectives on peacebuilding from our guests this past year.

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Christmas in Tacloban: Ruins and hope

By Marissa Aroy and Diana Valcarcel

In the Philippines, for the millions still struggling to recover from the devastation left by a deadly typhoon, the holiday season is a time of both sorrow and celebration.

TACLOBAN, Philippines, 24 December 2013 – Christmas celebrations will be muted this year in Tacloban and across the Philippines, where more than 14 million people have been affected by one of the largest typoons on record.

Yet less than two months after Typhoon Haiyan – known here as Yolanda – left a path of death and destruction, Filipinos are finding a way to celebrate the holiday.

In the Tacloban neighbourhood of Magallanes, a lone Christmas tree stands surrounded by debris and rubble. It’s one of many signs of hope amid the wreckage.

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Giving displaced children in Afghanistan an education, and an opportunity

By Thomas Nybo

KABUL, Afghanistan, 23 December 2013 – Before arriving at the Charahi Qambar camp for internally displaced people, 16-year-old Agha LaLay had never attended school. He didn’t know how to read, didn’t know how to write, and his math skills were nonexistent.

That was five years ago. His family, like many of the families here, fled their home in Helmand province to escape constant fighting. They joined thousands of other people living in this camp.

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Displaced families struggle to rebuild their lives after Typhoon Haiyan

By Marissa Aroy

A month after Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines, life is slowly returning to normal in hard-hit Tacloban, but as the experiences of these families show, there are tough choices to make, and things will never be quite the same.

TACLOBAN, Philippines, 11 December 2013 – Morning finds evacuees at the Rizal Central School sleeping on top of school desks, benches, and on the floor side by side. “We’re like sardines,” says Dennie Monteroso, a mother of six children. In this one classroom, 22 families share cooking duties, eat together on desks, and share meals of relief goods – canned sardines and packs of dried noodles, mostly.

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Joint press-release: Decline in education for Syrian children “worst and fastest in region’s history”

Release of paper by UNICEF, UNHCR, World Vision and Save the Children

GENEVA/NEW YORK/AMMAN, 13 December 2013 - The decline in education for Syrian children has been the sharpest and most rapid in the history of the region, according to a new paper published today.

“Education Interrupted” highlights that since 2011 nearly 3 million children from Syria have been forced to quit their education as fighting has destroyed classrooms, left children too terrified to go to school, or seen families flee the country. Progress achieved over decades has been reversed in under three years.

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In the Philippines, schools gradually reopening after Typhoon Haiyan

By Diana Valcarcel

While a massive recovery effort continues in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan’s deadly onslaught, the reopening of schools is giving children a place to learn again – and to feel safe.

PALO, Philippines, 6 December 2013 – It is not just another day in Palo. Then again, since Typhoon Haiyan blasted through a swath of the Philippines, life has been incredibly difficult – especially for children.

© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Valcarcel
UNICEF Education Officer Yul Adelfo Olaya with children of Palo Central School, in the tent where they now attend class, in Leyte province. UNICEF is providing tents, learning and recreational materials, and other support.

Alexa and Carl are bouncing around the entrance of Palo Central School, excited about the new school tent and seeing their friends again.

“I am happy to be back to school because my classmates survived,” says Alexa, 8.

In areas of the Philippines affected by the typhoon, about 90 per cent of school buildings were damaged – more than 3,200 schools in all – leaving over a million pupils and 34,000 teachers with no place for learning. In Leyte province alone, 760 schools were damaged. The Philippine Government, with the support of UNICEF and other partners, has worked to get children back to a normal schedule as quickly as possible, first with a ‘soft’ opening of schools in December, to be followed by a full reopening in January.

Moving towards recovery

In addition to supplying tents for classrooms, UNICEF has provided learning and recreational materials and has brought in teachers – some of them from other disaster-struck areas to share their knowledge and experience. Latrines and hand-washing facilities for boys and girls have been installed, as well.

As of 2 December, eight UNICEF-supported schools in Leyte province had reopened their doors, and three more were due to be open as soon as the debris could be removed to make space for a tent. An additional 25 schools are scheduled to be set up in the coming days.

© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Valcarcel
Carl, 11, and Alexa, 8, at Palo Central School. Children in typhoon-struck areas of the Philippines are returning to learning, beginning with a ‘soft’ opening of schools in December, followed by a complete reopening in January.

Getting back to learning helps children establish a routine, an important step toward recovery, and it helps teachers identify which pupils are in need of special attention.

UNICEF Education Officer Yul Adelfo Olaya used to be a student here at Palo Central School. “The message that wants to be sent is that it’s possible, that even in the destruction, education can continue,” he says.

Children were worried, he says, because they had lost their school materials in the typhoon.

“They kept telling me how they will continue their schools without books. They have been trying to dry them,” says Mr. Olaya. “The experience of children in surviving in this kind of disaster is more important than the content of the textbooks combined.”

Before the typhoon, Palo Central School had 1,913 pupils. When it reopened, about half of them showed up. Six children from the school reportedly died in the storm.

Today at Palo Central School, it’s clear that the typhoon does not have the last word, even if the surroundings are a picture of destruction. It’s the energy of children at school, united and raising their hands together, that will shape the future of the country.

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