ASIA/SRI LANKA - There are no teachers for 100 000 children living in conflict zones

Vavuniya (Agenzia Fides) - After years of interruption due to the ongoing conflicts in Northern Sri Lanka, thousands of students can eventually return to school, but there are no teachers. In 26 years of war, schools were destroyed and the children did not have any access to education. Now that, after more than two years since the declaration of the victory of the Government on the Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE), many structures have been repaired and the students ready to return, there are no teachers. The situation in the south of Vavuniya is alarming. Out of 197 English teachers there are less than half. Out of 199 science teachers, there are 87. However, the situation is even more complicated in the two rural districts of Vavunjya, Vavuniya North and Chettikulam, where there are only 2 teachers for 10 classes. Similar situation in the Kilinochchi district, where 400 teachers are still missing.
What discourages the teachers are the precarious conditions of transport systems, accommodation and lack of basic facilities like drinking water and health services. In 2010 the government prepared 1500 teachers and managers, also offering a session for the training of 50 counselors in the area, plus other programs to reduce shortages of English, mathematics, science and computer science teachers. According to the Joint Plan of Assistance Northern Province 2011, published by the Government of Sri Lanka, out of a total of 1016 schools in the northern province, 850 are operational. Of these, 720 were repaired and, at least 114 in the province will be upgraded and improved. The same report shows that 100 thousand school age children live in Vavuniya. The revival of education is already having a positive impact with children and families eager to return back to normality, according to reports by teachers and their students. Out of 179 students who passed an exam in 2010 at national level for a -five-year scholarship, 81 were accepted. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 05/09/2011)

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