2 July 2015: The schools of more than 1 million children in Nepal were destroyed by this year’s earthquakes. During the monsoon the school situation is expected to get worse, given the risks of landslides and flooding.
Education is one of the major casualties in all disasters. Globally, 28 million children are denied an education because they live in conflict or emergency affected areas. But in 2014 only 1% of humanitarian funds deployed went to education.
Plan International is calling on world leaders meeting at the Oslo Summit on Education for Development from 6 July to create a Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies.
Such a fund could help support vital work that Plan International is doing in Nepal, such as setting up temporary learning centres to get children back to school as soon as possible.
Temporary learning centres
In a new temporary learning centre in the Dolakha region, Namuna, 15, carefully follows her maths teacher’s calculations on the blackboard in her new classroom. It’s the first proper school day in her village since the first earthquake on 25 April and the tenth graders are full of enthusiasm even though the room is hot and crowded.
All the school’s 550 pupils lost their homes in the quakes. To start school again helps these children to regain a sense of hope and provides routine in the middle of chaos.
“I’m happy to be back in school again. After the earthquake, we could not continue studying like we should have done. Now we have just started and I don’t know if we will have continuity in our studies,” says Namuna.
Most teachers have also lost their homes and stay in temporary shelters. Niva, 16, tells us that when Plan International came to the village to distribute shelter materials people started arguing with each other about who should have priority.
“Some thought only the poorest should get the material and not the teachers in our village. But I said that if the teachers are affected they should get help too. Otherwise we won’t get any education!”
Helping children to recover
Further up on the mountain ridge, via a steep, winding road, lies another village where some of the teachers are camping beside Plan’s temporary learning centre near the ruins of the old school.
The school principal Makunda Raj Shivakoh lives nearby and has come to the school compound every day since the earthquakes to talk to the children. “In the beginning they were terrorised,” says Shivakoh. “There was a community shelter here the first weeks. All of my 450 pupils have lost their homes.”
Plan set up a child-friendly space – a safe place where children can play, learn and receive emotional support - in this village and has also created a temporary learning centre which will open soon.
“It is so important for the children to come together and play. You see in their faces that they are much happier and relaxed now,” says the principal.
Helping children to deal with trauma after a disaster like this is one of the most important tasks for Plan International. Providing education is central to this task, and that is why the establishment of the Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies is so vital, and why global leaders meeting in Oslo must prioritise funding and support for this institution.
To date Plan has set up 50 child-friendly spaces and 47 temporary learning spaces in earthquake affected areas.