United Nations agencies are working with the Peruvian Government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help more than 220,000 children in southern Peru return to school after this month’s devastating earthquake.
“Getting back to school is one of the most effective ways for children to resume a sense of normalcy in their lives after a traumatic event,” the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report from Pisco, the town worst hit by the quake which killed over 500 people, injured more than 1,000 others and destroyed at least 37,000 houses and four hospitals.
UNICEF is joining forces with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Ministry of Education, NGOs specializing in education, and local and regional government officials to help the children get back to school as quickly as possible.
According to the Ministry, children in nearly 1,000 affected schools will most likely continue their studies in prefabricated classrooms erected near the damaged buildings. More than 300 temporary classrooms are being installed in Pisco as well as in three urban areas hit hardest by the earthquake.
The task of reopening schools will be a major challenge on many fronts. Engineers and civil defence officials must inspect all schools in the quake-affected areas to ensure that they are safe. According to reports, hundreds more prefabricated classrooms will be required.
Children and parents will require psychological counselling after living through this traumatic period. Many are still hungry and homeless and are afraid to be separated from their families. Students who have lost all of their belongings will also need UNICEF-supplied back-to-school kits to begin studying again.
Some 1,500 teachers fled the region after the disaster. Prior to classes starting, the returning teachers will receive psychological counselling to help them cope with the tragedy as well.