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Returning to School in Haiti
Detail: Thousands of students started returning to school from the first week of April, less than three months after the devastating earthquake. The call to return to classes, led by the Haitian Ministry of Education and backed by UNICEF and its partners, is the first step in an operation that hopes to see more than 700,000 students back in places of learning over the next two months. These numbers are expected to increase towards the start of a new academic year in September.

The 12 January earthquake caused the death of an estimated 38,000 students, more than 1,300 teachers and other education personnel and left more than 4,000 schools and the Ministry of Educationís headquarters destroyed. All available data on education was lost. Nearly 3 million students are believed to have suffered an interruption to or complete cessation of their education.

UNICEF and its partners has worked with the Haitian government to provide 3,000 school tents to date, along with kits of student and teachersí materials and recreational items, and school furniture to assist children whose schools were destroyed, or who have moved to re-settlement camps after losing their homes. Rapid orientation has been provided to teachers and volunteers to re-start education, with an interim curriculum covering basic life skills, psychosocial support and disaster preparedness.

UNICEF has also provided seven prefabricated offices for the Ministry of Education and is working with the Ministry and partners on a model for earthquake proof schools using innovative building technologies, including environmentally friendly compressed earth blocks.

Priorities in the coming months will include engaging with the private sector - which normally provides schooling for some 80 per cent of enrolled students - development of social protection mechanisms to support the most marginalized and excluded families, improvements in the quality of education, school safety, non-formal education opportunities, technical and vocational training, and increasing community involvement in the management of education.

For more information, please contact:
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Haiti
Tel + 509 38 81 23 71 / + 1 646 6512492

Date: April 12 2010