As of 5 Jan 2005, about 150,000 people in 8 Asian countries have perished and more than 5 million lives affected due to the tsunami waves generated by the underwater earthquake near Bandar Aceh, Indonesia on 26 Dec 2004. About one third of those killed are children. As part of its Solidarity programme, EI initiated a Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme together with Oxfam Netherlands (NOVIB), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Building Workers International (BWI) to bring education back to the areas devastated by the disaster. Many EI member organisations, teachers and children donated to this cause. The solidarity and support from all over the world were both impressive and heart-warming.
EI was determined to help the teachers and children in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where whole villages and towns were completely flattened by the waves. What is the EI-NOVIB Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme about? For the first time, EI and its partners have joined hands to help local teacher organisations rebuild education for teachers and children affected by the disaster. In Indonesia, an agreement was reached on 25 June 2005 with the heads of four district governments in the Aceh province to reconstruct 28 primary schools. School reconstruction is only one part of the programme, which also includes various schemes, such as: - Quality training and trauma counselling for teachers - Scholarships - Advice centres organising housing co-operatives, obtaining finance and legal issues The scholarships will last 2 years, and children who have lost one or both parents and children whose parents have lost their livelihood due to the tsunami are eligible. A trauma counseling course are being conducted for teachers so that they can also help the children they teach. The first course was held in Banda Aceh from 14 - 18 December 2005, where 29 teachers from Aceh Besar and 30 from Banda Aceh participated. However, the implementation of the Programme has not been as smooth-sailing as one had hoped. The reconstruction of 28 schools Due to various administrative obstacles, the list of 28 schools could only be finalised in April 2006, although they could have been already completed in May or June with all the resources available. In the course of the eleven months after contacts with the local authorities, the list had to be changed fourteen times! EI and its partners strive to overcome these barriers to bring education back as soon as possible. Due to their efforts and the determination and hard work of local builders, the first school, the "National Elementary School 70" (SDN 70) of the Kampong Jawa village, located in the Banda Aceh district of Aceh province, was completed on 10 April 2006. It not only contains all the furnitures necessary, but also equipment such as computers. The school was declared opened by Mrs. Maria van der Hoeven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands on 3 May 2006. The ambassador of the Netherlands to Indonesia, Mr Nicholaos van Dam, representatives of the Provincial and District Education Offices, the Governor, the Mayor BRR, parents and teachers were also present at the opening ceremony. The General Secretary of EI’s Indonesian affiliate, the PGRI, Mr. Soemardi Thaher and leaders of the PGRI’s provincial branches were also there. The completion of the first school marks an achievement for both EI and its partners. Compared to the various corruption scandals and fund mismanagement faced by other organisations, EI has been spared such atrocities because of its local Programme co-ordinator Jerome Fernandez. Trauma counselling and training In total, 6 five-day trauma couselling courses for teachers have been conducted. Because the courses prove far superior to those provided by some other non-governmental organisations, there is an increased demand for the course from the various District Education Departments. Teacher training – qualified teachers for quality education It is the firm belief of EI that it is only through qualified teachers that one can have quality education. It is part of the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme to help the local education authorities provide training to aspiring teachers. So far, 201 teachers have undergone a six–day teacher training on the new curriculum established by the Ministry of Education in 2004 in two districts. Each course accommodates 100 teachers. Although the original proposal involved the training of 500 teachers, there is every possibility within the same amount of funds available for more teachers to be trained, and the Education Department will welcome this as no other organisations are undertaking such training. Here again the Department of Education is very appreciative of this initiative by EI, as these are the only teacher training programmes that are being undertaken to upgrade the teaching skills of the newly appointed teachers. If not for EI, these teachers will not be trained at all as the Ministry is short of funds to train the teachers. Scholarships to help achieve Education For All While a number of students were traced and identified, scholarships were provided to children who were relocated in other schools. The distribution of the bulk of the scholarships is going to take some time until all the 28 schools are built. A Memorandom of Understanding was signed between EI and the Postal Department on 17 April 2006 for the Postal Department to distribute the scholarships to the pupils in the scholarship list prepared by EI. The Postal Department will deliver the money to the pupils directly on a school–by–school basis. A monthly statement of payment will be sent to the EI office by the Postal Department. The headmasters and the teachers in the respective schools are also involved in ensuring that the children receive their scholarships regularly. The schools will also provide EI with regular reports on the attendance and progress made by the children in their studies. Parents and teachers of the children have also been informed that if there is no satisfactory reports on the above two elements, the scholarships would be withdrawn. Each child in the elementary school would receive Rp. 998,000 monthly (US$11). The Postal Department charges Rp 2000 per child per month as service fee. There is a full-time staff, appointed to supervise the scholarship project, who will be making visits to schools from time to time to monitor the implementation of the scholarship programme. The scholarships are put in place as part of EI’s campaign to help achieve Education For All. Children who have survived the tsunami should not be deprived of their right to education. Your Solidarity is our Motivation! It has been more than a year since the disaster took place, and life has still not returned to normal for most of the survivors. Apart from the bureacracy and potential mismanagement of funds mentioned above, the Programme faces many barriers, such as the lack of skilled workers. This means that the reconstruction of schools and houses can only proceed at a snail’s pace. Even after the completion of the first school, student enrolment will only pick up its pace when the surrounding houses are rebuilt and locals can safely return to their homes. EI strongly believes that education is not about putting a child in a classroom, it is about providing the child with a qualified teacher. Encouraged by the solidarity exhibited by thousands of teachers and children worldwide, we are determined to make its Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme a huge success!