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First group of Iranian children in quake-devastated Bam return to school

19 January - The first 50 of the estimated 20,000 school-age children whose schools were damaged or demolished in quake-devastated Bam, Iran, return to school today, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said.

"The first of 26 temporary schools is scheduled to open in the city's Zone 10, catering for up to 50 primary school children in an inflatable tent provided by UNICEF," it said, adding, "An estimated 20,000 school-age children remain in Bam and, since the 26 December quake, most have been living in tents with little access to recreation and educational opportunities."

The tent was erected yesterday in the Bam area, where 90 per cent of the school buildings were destroyed and an estimated one-third of the teachers were killed, along with 10,000 children. The surviving members of the school population have been suffering from stress and psychosocial trauma, while having to care for their families, UNICEF said.

Twenty-six locations were identified around the city where temporary schools could be established. Where facilities to accommodate classrooms are limited, UNICEF has provided 16 inflatable school tents to the Ministry of Education in Bam and the ministry has also obtained metal containers for classes.

Where teachers are available to begin emergency education, UNICEF has made available more than 240 Schools-in-a-Box - each with materials that include exercise books, pens and paper for up to 80 students - and 50 recreational kits, containing equipment for sports and games, it said.

"We know from global experience that in the aftermath of a disaster such as this it is imperative to help children rebuild a sense of routine in their daily lives. Education - even in non-formal environments and at a basic level - does help children to focus their energies on something other than the terrible conditions they are living in, and the horrors that they have already experienced," said UNICEF's Representative for Iran, Ms. Kari Egge.

... Payvand News - 1/20/04 ... --

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