The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has pledged $50,000 to the Education International Tsunami Relief Program. The funds will go towards immediate humanitarian relief for teachers, students, and their families hit by the devastating tsunamis.
In addition, the BCTF leaders have committed to developing a longer-term plan for involvement in the reconstruction of schools and public education in the stricken regions.
“Like so many people around the world, we were shaken by the massive scope of the devastation, and moved to take action,” said BCTF President Jinny Sims. “Teachers all over B.C. have made donations as individuals and now are working with thousands of students to raise additional funds for the relief effort. But we also know our members would want us, as a Federation, to make significant ongoing efforts to help students, teachers, and families rebuild their schools and communities.”
Sims noted that children are the most vulnerable in the wake of the catastrophe. Thousands have been killed, thousands more are orphaned and homeless. There are disturbing reports of children being trafficked across borders. “The sooner we can get schools re-opened, the sooner we can begin helping survivors deal with the trauma and loss they have suffered,” Sims said.
Education International estimate at least 10,000 teachers are among the tsunami victims. At least 2,000 teachers are reported missing in the northern Indonesian province of Aceh alone. With more than 1,000 schools destroyed, 140,000 elementary students and 20,000 secondary school students have nowhere to learn. Emergency schools will be set up in tents located near the refugee camps.
According to the Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka, more than 80,000 children and 3,000 teachers are displaced. Up to 60 schools were completely damaged, and 110 schools were partially damaged with all school furniture and equipment destroyed. A large number of schools are now used to house the refugees.
For more information on the Education International campaign and for updates on the extent of damage to the education systems in the affected countries, please go to: www.ei-ie.org/tsunami/en/.