Celebrations for official hand-over of 42 storm-resistant schools in Myanmar

Article, 31.10.2013

Conclusion of school construction project in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta

After four years of work, the last of the 42 storm-resistant school houses in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta in Myanmar have been completed. The project led by Swiss Humanitarian Aid provides a safe and comfortable learning environment for more than 7,000 children as well as protection in the event of a disaster for up to 1,000 people per school house.

U Soe Win, vice-director of the Yangon education department, hands Ambassador Burgener an official letter of thanks from the government..

On 16 October 2013 in Hpo Shwe Lone, a village in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta region in the south-west of Myanmar, a celebration was held for the official handing over to the village community of the school house built by Swiss Humanitarian Aid. In a speech during the ceremony, Ambassador Christoph Burgener said that the opening of the Hpo Shwe Lone school house marked the end of a project that was launched in 2009 following Cyclone Nargis. Thanks to this project, 42 schools with a total of 133 classrooms have been rebuilt for use by more than 7,000 pupils in this hurricane-prone region.

Construction of storm-resistant school buildings
To make a sustainable contribution to the reconstruction of the region, the schools were rebuilt to provide the whole community with a safe place to shelter in the event of another natural disaster.

«The earthquake-resistant buildings were designed on two levels: the first floor, which houses the classrooms and staff rooms, can provide shelter to up to 1,000 people in the event of a disaster. The ground floor has room for additional classrooms or may be used as an assembly area for the village community,» said Peter Brunner, project manager for school construction in the delta.

Long-term support from the SDC

Swiss Humanitarian Aid is now involved in a further stage to improve access to local public infrastructure such as water distribution, irrigation, schools and health centres in Kayin State and Mon State in the south-east of the country. For the coming years, the SDC has added other focuses to its work in this region of the country to improve vocational education and training, agricultural production and healthcare. In the knowledge that peace is an important prerequisite for the country's development, Switzerland is actively supporting the peace process and good governance.

«We all know that without freedom there can be no development and without development there can be no freedom», explained Ambassador Burgener in his speech at the opening ceremony, which was attended by Daw Khin Saw Mu, the minister for social affairs for the Ayarwaddy Region, along with many other representatives of the education authorities of the affected districts.

Village community involved in construction
Teachers, students and parents as well as the village communities were actively involved in the building of the schools. They appreciate the improved and more comfortable learning environment and knowing that they have a safe place to take refuge in the event of a disaster.

Surveys in the delta have revealed that school attendance in the areas of deployment is over 90%, while in other localities not even one in two children can attend school, among other reasons because there are too few places.