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