As Finnish schools celebrated the end of semester, in Nepal schools opened their doors for the first time since the earthquake. The schools that had been closed in the devastated areas were reopened on Sunday, 31 May, in accordance with the decision of the Nepalese Ministry of Education.
However, the reconstruction of school buildings and the distribution of teaching materials are still unfinished and the atmosphere in Nepal is rather pressing. The difficult conditions in the mountains and the slow progression of needs assessment have delayed relief efforts. Not all schools will be able to function at full capacity in the given timetable.
Help from donors is also still needed; Finn Church Aid (FCA) is expected to expand its efforts from 250 temporary schools to 500. Currently, as emergency relief for the education sector, FCA is building 68 temporary learning spaces in Kathmandu, 65 in Bakhtapur and 100 in Lalitpur.
In all locations, proper toilets and clean water supplies will be available in the school facilities. Teacher training and psychosocial support remain key elements of the emergency relief provided for the education sector. In practice that means free-time activities for the children and young people, training in psychosocial support for the teachers and introduction to psychosocial support for the parents. FCA has also distributed teaching materials and sports equipment to the schools.
During the first few days, the curriculum focuses on giving psychosocial support.
“The earthquake has inevitably influenced the curricula. In the first weeks, a lot of time in the schools will be used for discussion and activities such as play and sports, to give the children a chance to offload and process what we have all experienced. The Nepalese education officials have also informed us that teaching on natural disasters and improved preparedness will be added to the curriculum,” explains Minna Peltola, Finn Church Aid education expert, who has just returned from Nepal.
Very telling is the fact that Nepalese parents hesitate to send their children to school even if the school buildings have been inspected. There have been over 250 aftershocks in Nepal, which explains why the parents and the children remain afraid. The children prefer studying in the temporary learning spaces that are light structured and easy to get out of. The construction materials too – bamboo, canvas and corrugated iron – are lighter than in the permanent buildings.
Further information from on location:
Johanna Kurki, education specialist, Kathmandu, p. +977 98037 79747 (tai +881 62141 9330)
Further information from Helsinki:
Minna Peltola, education expert, p. 040 739 5612
Minna Elo, information officer, p. 050 330 9747
Finn Church Aid fundraising for the victims of the Nepal earthquake
Fundraising account: Nordea IBAN FI33 1572 3000 5005 04, reference number (viitenumero) 4022.