As Vanuatu’s schools officially reopen, schools and students affected by Cyclone Pam will receive recreation supplies like tents for use as temporary classrooms and school kits for children that will provide temporary relief and support teachers and students alike to resume classes.
UNICEF, in collaboration with the Government of Vanuatu and partners such as Save the Children will provide assistance to 30,000 school-aged children from early childhood to secondary school level who have been affected.
Of the 400 schools affected including Early Childhood Care, 250 suffered damage to infrastructure, facilities and resources. Initial shipments have already reached children in badly-affected areas such as the Shepherd Islands and Efate Island with further supplies en route to affected communities across the country.
However not all students will be returning this early, some will have to wait up to two months before they can return to their studies.
The number of children returning to school is low and Catherine Warsal, Deputy Principal of St Joseph’s Primary School on Efate Island reported today that just 170 of her 330 students had returned to school for their first day back. “I am worried about those who haven’t returned, it’s likely that their family homes have been destroyed and they are unable to return. The children like school and love coming so we hope they will return soon.”
On badly-affected Tanna Island, the School Principal of Lenakel Presbyterian College Mr Shim George is facing an uphill battle to resume classes. Six of 10 classrooms were destroyed, as well as the dining room, boys’ dormitories and teacher’s quarters. All learning resources have been damaged. “For us it will take some time before we recover and return to normal. For the students it will affect them a lot, especially final year students who have important exams. We would like to restart their education as soon as possible, somehow, somewhere, so they are not so badly affected.”
UNICEF is also sending ‘back to school’ back packs containing school supplies to children in cyclone-affected Tuvalu, an archipelago nation made up of nine islands, where a state of emergency is also in place following tidal surges caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam that affected the northern islands.
To donate to the relief effort follow the link http://www.unicef.org.nz/vanuatu