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‘Back to school’ campaign for quake-affected children in Indonesia

©UNICEF Indonesia/2006
Students on their way to school as the new school year began on 17 July – part of the ‘Back to School’ campaign for children affected by the 27 May earthquake in Central Java, Indonesia.

NEW YORK, USA, 19 July 2006 – Children in quake-affected communities across Central Java, Indonesia are back in their classrooms as the new academic year begins this week.

To support the Indonesian Government’s ‘Back to School’ campaign in communities stricken by the 27 May earthquake in the area, UNICEF has distributed learning materials for some 100,000 students. UNICEF also has donated more than 200 tents to be used as temporary classrooms.

“Going back to school after the emergency is very important for children,” says UNICEF Education Officer Sayo Aoki. “It helps them continue studying and overcome the difficulties they are going through. School also helps the children get back to the routines they had before.”

A fresh start for children

Among the students who started classes on Monday is Tiara, 12, who remembers vividly what happened to her on that fateful day almost two months ago in hard-hit Yogyakarta, Central Java.

“When the earthquake happened, I was asleep,” recalls Tiara. “I heard noises and woke up. My parents told me to get out of the house. Then the bricks started falling down. I ran outside to the main road and saw people bleeding, people with broken legs and a baby covered in blood.”

The disaster killed nearly 5,800 people and displaced 130,000, 40 per cent of them children. Tiara’s school was seriously damaged, along with some 900 other schools in the region. The ‘Back to School’ campaign is intended to give children like her a chance for a fresh start.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2006
A student writing in a new exercise book received from UNICEF on the first day of the new school year in Central Java, Indonesia.

Education and development

“In all the disasters where I’ve worked, young people visibly want education,” says Allison Anderson of the Inter-Agency Network on Education in Emergencies, which has worked with UNICEF and other partners in many post-crisis situations. “They want it not only because it’s a right, but [because] it really does help move their communities towards peace and development,” she added.

Carrying a brand-new school bag that she received from UNICEF, Tiara is certainly visibly excited about the new school year. “I want to be successful,” she says. “I want to graduate from university and study abroad.”

As for her fellow students in quake-stricken Yogyakarta, Tiara hopes “they do their best so that they can help build the country in the future.”


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18 July 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on Indonesia’s ‘Back to School’ campaign for children affected by the 27 May earthquake in Central Java.

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18 July 2006:
Allison Anderson of Inter-Agency Network on Education in Emergencies explains how education helps children cope with disasters and gain a sense of normalcy.

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