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School construction lifts children’s spirits in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

©UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Nettleton
Dindra and a schoolmate study in their temporary schoolhouse in Banda Aceh; their former school was destroyed in the December 2004 tsunami.

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, 25 July 2006 – For more than a year now, Rahmat Riski Karunia and his classmates have attended school in a temporary compound built with funding from UNICEF while a permanent structure is being built next door.

Rahmat is enthusiastic about the new complex, the first of 300 schools to be built by UNICEF in Aceh, which was devastated in the December 2004 tsunami, and on the North Sumatran island of Nias, hit by a major earthquake in March 2005.

“I will be inspired to study harder at the new school,” said Rahmat.

UNICEF has committed $90 million to develop education systems in the two struggling Indonesian provinces. Part of that funding will be used to make new schools more earthquake-resistant – and to make them models of ‘child-friendly schools’ that act in the interests of the whole child, including his or her health, nutrition and overall well-being.


© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Nettleton
Students attend lessons in a temporary school as they await construction of a new permanent child-friendly school in Banda Aceh.

Determined to come to classes

“The challenge we are facing is how to involve the community and encourage them to participate in education and school management,” said UNICEF Education Officer Sayo Aoki.

The concept of a child-friendly school must be taught to the local community, as most people think that education only happens at school, Ms. Aoki said. “Through this concept we ask them to think that everyone is responsible for the children’s education,” she added.

The impending arrival of a permanent school has lifted the mood of students in Banda Aceh. Dinda Lisan Sidqin, a third-grade student who lives 17 km from the new school, is determined to come to classes every morning.

“I am very happy. I feel more motivated to study,” said Dinda. “I want to be a doctor because I will earn a lot of money. I can make my parents happy with that, and I can help other people.”


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24 July, 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Steve Nettleton reports on the progress of school construction in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

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