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Education activities of one million students affected.

ISLAMABAD, July 30, 2009 (Balochistan Times) -- Educational activities of around one million children remained suspended due to stay of the Internally Displaced Persons at the schools, said UNICEF Education Officer, Syed Fawad Ali Shah on Thursday. Over 4739 schools were occupied by the IDPs out of which 1167 have been vacated by July 26. Closure of schools affected education activities of one million children, he informed a news conference. Shah said, the UNICEF will be facilitating education facilities to around 600,000 children of 15-18 age group in four districts; Lower Dir, Malakand, Buner and Swat. But, he complained of insufficient donations for the education cluster and said, only 17% donation was so far received. We shall be persuading the donors for more assistance for rehabilitation of the educational institutions and continuing the educational activities. He said all 27 primary and 15 secondary schools functioning at camps have been closed as the IDPs have already returned to their homes. Similarly, out of 167 schools set up in host communities, 126 have been closed. He said UNICEF will be assisting the provincial government in rehabilitation of schools. Though, it would not include overall construction of the schools damaged by the militants or during the operation, yet we shall be cooperating in efforts like furniture provision, white wash, water and sanitation facilities. Shah appreciated the plan prepared by the provincial government for revival of the educational institutions and said, 187 schools were totally damaged and 318 partially. The UNICEF will assist rehabilitate 318 partially damaged school. He said the places where schools are totally damaged, temporary schools or tent schools would be established. Moreover, second shift would be started at the government and the private schools in working condition so the student do not further suffer any loss of time. He said UNICEF will also conduct teachers training courses and extend trauma psycho-social support to students. It would be a rolling plan comprising three phases. The task is very big, but we have to do it. Teachers would also be trained in teaching skills as well as use of emergency kits, he added. Answering a question, he said, the education session in winter zone would start from August 01 and in remaining schools from September 01. When asked about the rehabilitation cost, he said, it was estimated at US$ 8.5 million but the education cluster received only 17% of the estimated cost. We would be needing more to expand our program. To a query about availability of the teachers, Shah said, it is one of the challenges. Availability of the teachers obviously is a concern. He said opening girls schools is also our priority. The NWFP government has a long term rehabilitation plan About providing books and uniforms free of cost, Shah said, the provincial government is already providing text books free of cost. If our assistance would be required for that we shall be available,. When asked about a time frame for vacation of all schools occupied by the IDPs, he said, the authorities have given us the time of two weeks, though it can be too difficult.

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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 30, 2009
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