12 Oct 2009

UNICEF helping find new classrooms in Samoa to replace those destroyed by the tsunami

8:23 pm on 12 October 2009

Unicef is working with the Samoan Government Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture to get children affected by last month's tsunami back into schools.

The tsunami destroyed five schools - four primary and one secondary - directly affecting almost 1,100 children.

Many classrooms, toilet blocks and potable water facilities were completely destroyed, with debris such as glass and steel strewn about making it too dangerous for even temporary learning spaces to be run on site.

UNICEF Emergency Education Specialist, Phuong Nguyen says school helps to establish a sense of normalcy in children's lives.

"What we're trying to help them do is to either set up temporary learning spaces in the village that these children are coming from or otherwise, we can always put them into a host community school. That means it's a school in the nearby neighbourhood. But nearby also means up to five kilometres away."

Phuong Nguyen says getting back to school is especially important for Grade 8 students who need to prepare for national exams taking place on 9 November.