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Pakistan: Newsline

Healing Classrooms Help Children Recover from Disaster

©IRC/Joanne Offer
A month ago, children in Ghanool were learning under trees, their classrooms destroyed in the quake. Now children study in tents, safe from the harsh sun and monsoon rains, thanks to the IRC, which worked with UNICEF to distribute ”school in a box” kits.

Ghanool, PAKISTAN 7 July 2006 - The devastating earthquake of October 2005 took the lives of more than 18,000* students and over 850 teachers in northern Pakistan and Kashmir. The disaster damaged or destroyed 95 percent of all school buildings, leaving the surviving children without a place to learn, without essential materials like books, chairs and desks, and without the confidence to go back to a place associated with tragedy.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has worked closely with UNICEF to provide 100 government schools in the Mansehra District in northern Pakistan with tents, blackboards, notebooks, stationery and recreational materials to get them operational once again.

Now that children are back in the classroom, albeit a tarpaulin one, the IRC is training more than 800 teachers (including 250 in Mansehra) in the latest methodologies and child-centered approaches. The idea is to create healing classrooms where children can learn, play and build a future for themselves.

Laila Khan of the IRC in Pakistan visited the village of Ghanool, Mansehra District, where the local government school was destroyed in the Oct. 8 earthquake. Some 210 children currently take their lessons in tents supplied by the IRC—children struggling to put the past behind them and move forward with hope and determination.

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* All figures taken from a November 2005 report by the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank.


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