Earlier this week, Nepali children whose schools were destroyed or heavily damaged in the two earthquakes are having classes for the first time in five weeks in temporary learning centers.
The children are using learning materials and early childhood kits provided by UNICEF and other GPE partners. The temporary classrooms are made out of bamboo, wood, steel or tarpaulin depending on local availability of materials.
About 14,000 children are part of this first group to get back to school. While efforts are underway to bring all children back to school, there are still 985,000 children who are not yet back at school. In total, 32,000 classrooms were destroyed and more than 15,000 classrooms were damaged after the two major earthquakes.
International experiences indicate that children who are out of school for a long time after a disaster are less likely to ever return to the classroom. That’s why education partners are working closely with the Ministry of Education to get all children back to school as soon as possible, while also assuring safe learning environments and emotional support for children.
The Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education recently approved a new grant of US$ 59.3 million in support of Nepal’s education sector plan. The focus is on increasing access to school and improving quality of school education, particularly basic education (grades 1 to 8), especially for children from marginalized groups. The Ministry of Education may decide to use the funding to address some of the more urgent needs related to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of schools following the earthquakes.
Meanwhile emergency activities have started. According to UNICEF:
- More than 100 teams of structural engineers are working across the affected districts to gather data on level of damage and identify safe and unsafe classrooms. More than 1,000 school blocks have already been structurally assessed.
- 137 temporary learning centers have been set up, benefitting about 14,000 children in 16 districts most affected by the two earthquakes.
- More than 1,000 teachers received training on psychosocial support to children and key lifesaving messages on disaster preparedness, health, hygiene and protection.
In addition, a mass media campaign “Back-to-School” has kicked off focusing on the importance of education in emergencies, such as safety, access for all, and the roles of parents and communities.
The national-level Education Cluster, which consists of the Nepali government, UNICEF, Save the Children and other humanitarian actors working in education, estimates that $24 million is urgently needed to conclude structural assessments of 7,800 schools; set up a total of 4,668 temporary learning centers; provide teaching, learning and recreational supplies for 1 million children; and train almost 20,000 teachers and facilitators on psychosocial support and life-saving messages.