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Tsunami-affected children learn under difficult conditions

COLOMBO: A research carried out by Save the Children in Sri Lanka, focused on consultations with children in the South, East and North of the country reveals that over 70 per cent of schoolchildren in tsunami-affected areas continue to study under extremely difficult conditions.

Difficulties for many children include shortage of chairs, desks and books; serious gaps in basic resources such as water and toilets; shortages of teachers; and in many cases children are forced to study under hot and noisy zinc-sheet roofs.

The first phase of the research, 'Children's Consultation on Education' which was conducted in March-April 2006, consulted 1,447 schooling children and 50 non-schooling children in Southern, Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Habaraduwa, Hambantota, Kalmunai, Karativu, Vadamarachchi and Velvettithurai were the divisions selected for the survey based on the fact that these divisions were worst affected by the Tsunami. The sample included a total of 33 schools from all three provinces.

"We have to fight for chairs in the classroom since there are insufficient number of chairs," a Grade 4 student said.

"Since there are only four water taps for nearly 1,500 students we cannot drink water during the interval as first preference is given to small children and when we are late for the next period the teachers punish us," - a Grade 6 student said.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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