The school in a box
Sat, Dec 12, 2009
Kuensel Newspaper/Asia News Network

A 50 kg box containing basic teaching materials will form a key component in ensuring that basic education of school going students continue when natural calamities strikes.

The five-day workshop, which brought together in Paro about 40 education officials from across the country, is to train them with skills to provide uninterrupted teaching, even when teaching materials get destroyed by natural disasters.

Among others, each 'school in a 50 kg box' contains chalk, books and stationery, and mathematical instruments, enough for about 80 students.

'Asian countries in particular are prone to natural disasters,' said education in emergencies consultant in Bangkok, Melinda Smith. 'Prompt response of education to affected children can overcome trauma and save children from being traumatised.'

She said that the participants had learnt more from the recent earthquake that hit the eastern Bhutan. 'Keeping kids engaged with education can overcome their distress,' said Melinda.

An education officer with the ministry of education (MoE), Bishnu Bhakta Mishra, said that the urgency of training people is increasing with the country falling in a natural seismic zone. 'Large number of children are school-goers and teachers, being with them to give immediate help, must be aware of it,' he said. 'We can't depend on external consultation anymore and we want it to be done by ourselves.'

The education in emergencies focal person at the MoE, Kaka Tshering, said that if the materials are found effective then 10-15 boxes would be supplied to each dzongkhag, ready to be supplied to schools when disaster strikes.

'A committee will be formed in each dzongkhag, which will assess, plan and monitor the schools and maintain reports,' said Kaka. 'We have to get feedback from teachers on the 'school in the box,' plan and see if it can be implemented.'

He said that the ministry had so far conducted mock drills and sensitisation programs in schools and is strengthening it further by providing guidance and materials. Supported by UNICEF, the workshop ends today.

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