Thousands of children affected by last month's earthquake in Nepal returned to schools five weeks after the disaster killed more than 8,600 people and destroyed schools across the country.
Education in Nepal is once again up and running, despite the heavy loss of school buildings and classrooms. The Nepalese government and aid agencies have built 137 temporary learning centres for 14,000 children who attended schools across Nepal on 31 May for the first time in weeks, a working day in the country. Aid workers said at least another 4,500 education centres have to be built in order to accommodate students who have been forced out of their classrooms by the earthquake.
School authorities said children will get to play and interact with teachers before studies start in two weeks in an effort to help them cope with what has been a traumatic experience.
More than 32,000 classrooms were destroyed across Nepal when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on 25 April, affecting almost a third of the country’s 28 million habitants. A second quake registering a 7.3 magnitude on 12 May caused further damage and hampered efforts to rebuild.
Nearly a million children have been severely affected by the earthquakes, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which added that $24.1m (€19.6m) was needed to set up the learning centres, train more than 19,000 teachers and volunteers on psychosocial support.
An Education International (EI) delegation also met mid-May, shortly after the devastating earthquake, with representatives from the three EI affiliates, the Nepal National Teachers' Association, the Nepal Teachers' Association, and the Sansthagat Vidyalaya Schickshak Union Nepal, as well as representatives of the teachers’ confederation CNT.
One issue of great concern for EI is the threat of privatisation in Nepal’s public education system. Nepali affiliates said that students will be forced to enrol in private schools if alternative learning space is not made available for the public school buildings destroyed in the disaster.
Teachers lead the way
Even though the struggle to return to normality will be filled with challenges, in the days following the first major earthquake all of Nepal’s teachers agreed to forfeit six days of salary, equivalent to more than $6 million USD, in support of fellow citizens and teachers in need. However, despite their significant contribution, much more support is needed to help the education sector get back on its feet.
To address immediate needs and establish long-term stability, EI is asking for contributions to the Relief and Solidarity Fund to support Nepal’s teachers unions, their members and students. To get involved or receive more information, please contact Nicolas Richard, EI Senior Coordinator, Solidarity and Development at Nicolas.Richards@ei-ie.org, or follow banking details below:
Avenue Marnix, 24, B-1000 Brussels - Belgium
IBAN: BE05 3101 0061 7075
Including the reference “Solidarity with Nepal”