Emergency fund helps children go back to school after Papua New Guinea earthquake

Students At School In West Britain Papua New Guinea
Thousands of school students in Papua New Guinea have been waiting to return to education after the earthquake (Asia Development Bank)

Children's welfare after natural disasters, Education Cannot Wait, Education in emergencies

Money from Education Cannot Wait will help aid organisations to set up temporary learning spaces and provide psychological support for thousands of traumatised students. 

When a natural disaster strikes, it’s vital for children to be back in school quickly. Not just for their education – but to help them deal with the trauma.

Thousands of children were left in desperate need of safe classrooms and psychological support after a devastating earthquake hit Papua New Guinea on February 26.

The 7.5-magnitude quake was followed by at least 70 aftershocks and major landslides. More than 150 people died and hundreds of schools were damaged in the Pacific island nation.

But now emergency funding will help thousands of children go back to school.

Education Cannot Wait – which helps to restore schooling in humanitarian emergencies – has given $1.5 million to provide resources for aid organisations to start restoring education services. Temporary learning spaces will be set up until schools are rebuilt.

“It is urgent for children to recover a sense of normalcy in their lives after living through such a disaster,” said ECW Director Yasmine Sherif.

“Going back to school is crucial to help them overcome the trauma they have endured and to ensure they continue to learn and thrive.”

The emergency funding will target some of the worst-affected areas in the Southern Highlands Province and Hela Province. It will provide safe learning spaces, psychological support, and learning and recreational materials, as well as supporting 10,000 teachers.

Papua New Guinea Earthquake 1

In the wake of the earthquake, Papua New Guinea’s education ministry said at least 15,000 children and their teachers needed support to resume classes.

Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra said last week that damaged classrooms will be rebuilt – but currently the government doesn’t have enough money to do that.

“We will be responsible for the high schools and the primary schools classrooms that were destroyed,”  he said.

Relief efforts were suspended for a while because of violence and instability. The World Health Organization warned after the earthquake that 25,000 children needed psychological support.

The Education Cannot Wait funding is its second allocation this year, after $3 million was announced in April support education in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

ECW, which supports education for children affected by conflict and natural disasters, has invested a total of $87 million in 16 crisis-affected countries, reaching more than 650,000 students.

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