LAPUTTA TOWNSHIP, Myanmar, 22 July 2008 – The school year here in the southern Irrawaddy Delta region was supposed to resume last month. The destruction and damage affecting nearly 60 per cent of the area’s public schools in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, however, prevented classes from starting on time.
It has been over two months since the cyclone hit Myanmar. In the Irrawaddy Delta, where the most severe destruction occurred, recovery and relief efforts have progressed well, enabling the area to rebuild schools. Just a few weeks ago, schools reopened, giving more than 6,000 children more hope for a better future.
UNICEF and its partners have set up large tents that serve as safe learning spaces for children whose schools were destroyed. So far, 123 school tents have been set up in six townships in the southern Irrawaddy Delta, and 56 of the temporary schools have also received classroom furniture.
Ma Nandar Hlaing, a student at a Laputta Township school that reopened with support from UNICEF, hopes to become a teacher one day. In addition to the school tents and furniture, latrine pans and water tanks are being distributed to schools in Laputta and Bogale.
Thinking about the future
“Our primary school was totally collapsed and everything was destroyed,” said Daw San San Maw, a teacher in Laputta. “But UNICEF provided the school tent, essential learning packages and furniture so that children can now continue schooling.”
The reopened schools in the cyclone zone have begun to restore children’s sense of well-being, providing them with safe and nurturing places to learn. Returning to school has given these children a chance to resume the rhythm of a normal life and to think about their future.
“I want to become a doctor. Science is my favourite subject,” said six-year-old student Mg Nyein Htet Aung.
According to the latest UN estimates, Cyclone Nargis killed 84,530 people, and 53,836 others are still missing.
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