8 Jul 2015

Vanuatu school building rebuilt in two days

8:14 am on 8 July 2015

The President of the Vanuatu Teachers Union says schools around the country should take inspiration from the story of Melemaat Primary School, which rebuilt a classroom in just two days.

Little kids playing in the wreckage of their home on Mataso after the cyclone.

Little kids playing in the wreckage of their home on Mataso after the cyclone. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Arsene Siriam's statement comes after the announcement that Vanuatu's education sector has been allocated US$7.3 million to rebuild infrastructure damaged in Cyclone Pam.

The education ministry says that after waiting almost five months, it will now rebuild 70 percent of school buildings damaged by the category five cyclone, which devastated much of the country in March.

Empty desks - This school on South Epi in the Shepherd Islands will not hear children's voices anytime soon.

Almost 70 percent of school buildings in Vanuatu were damaged in some way by Cyclone Pam. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

The ministry estimates that more than 34,500 children in both government and semi-government schools have been affected by Pam, with many schools having to use make-shift classrooms of tarpaulins and tents.

Roy Ben, from the ministry's policy department, says each school will now need to decide its priorities.

"All the development partners or funding agencies, they need to submit a project proposal for all their reconstruction activities that will be carried out in the schools, schools affected by Cyclone Pam."

The President of the Vanuatu Teacher's Union, Arsene Siriam, says his organisation estimates it could take until 2018 for all schools destroyed by the cyclone to be rebuilt.

Library books drying on a concrete slab that used to be one of the classrooms of the Melemaat Primary School outside of Vila.

Resources were also damaged. A concrete slab that used to be one of the classrooms is used to dry library books at the Melemaat Primary School outside of Vila. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

However, he believes communities should take heart from the story of Melemaat Primary School, near Port Vila, which managed to rebuild a classroom in just two days.

"In one village, in one village here on Efate, biggest village in Vanuatu classroom has been built in two days. Walls, foundation, walls and roofing in two days. But we need materials, money, materials and workforce."

Mr Siriam says the case of Mele is an example of what can be achieved if communities in Vanuatu are given the resources they need to rebuild.

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