Children's education still suffers 18 months after Tsunami
Research by Save the Children in Sri Lanka, focused on consultations with children in the South, East and North of the country reveals that over 70% of school children in Tsunami-affected areas continue to study under extremely difficult conditions.
Difficulties for many children include shortage of chairs, desks and books; serious gaps in basic resources such as water and working toilets; shortages of teachers; and in many cases children are forced to study under hot and noisy zinc-sheet roofs.
In a surprising discovery, it was found that despite the national prohibition on the use of corporal punishment in schools, according to children in some areas up to 55% of teachers still use this method.
The first phase of the research, ‘Children’s’ Consultation on Education’ which was conducted in March - April 2006, consulted 1447 schooling children and 50 non-schooling children in Southern, Northern and Eastern Provinces. Habaraduwa, Hambantota, Kalmunai, Karativu, Vadamarachchi and Velvettithurai were the divisions selected for the survey based on the fact that these divisions were worst effected by the Tsunami. The sample included a total of 33 schools from all 3 provinces.
Children spoke on the different aspects of their education which were affected by the Tsunami and said that although measures were taken to improve education facilities, some were not sufficient and practical.
“We have to fight for chairs in the classroom since there are insufficient number of chairs”-Grade 4 Student
“since there are only 4 water taps for nearly 1500 students we cannot drink water during the interval as first preference is given to small children and when we are late for the next period the teachers punish us”- Grade 6 student
Save the children in Sri Lanka (SCiSL) intends to carry out the ‘Children’s’ Consultation on Education’ in three stages. SCiSL is sharing the findings from this research phase with the Ministry of Education and other agencies.
SCiSL recommends that children should urgently be provided with a more conducive school environment with special emphasis on critical needs such as water and toilet facilities; temporary study rooms with electricity, furniture and other equipment should be built at camp sites until damaged schools and houses are completely reconstructed and rehabilitated; and schools should develop an accountability mechanism and a mechanism to promote the participation of parents and children in the rebuilding and rehabilitation process of damaged schools.
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