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January 04, 2005
"A good tree will be fine …"

Happy New Year, and yes, I'm back, although I never did get around to saying when that would be. But anyway, Happy New Year.

Unless of course you or any of your near and dear have been hit for six (my metaphor is taken from cricket - a game much played in that part of the world) by the Great Wave, in which case deepest commiserations.

I've already done some education/tsunami blogging, linking from Samizdata to this amazing story, about how a girl learnt about tsunami's in a recent geography lesson and consequently saw this one coming, in the form of the lower water level that precedes the arrival of a giant wave. With such exceptional survival stories do we console ourselves even as we also read about tends of thousands of others who were not so lucky.

Joanne Jacobs was impressed too, and added this:

Tilly didn't just have the knowledge; she had the moxie to make her parents listen to her warning.

Indeed. Much more typical, alas, was this story from Tamil Nadu in India:

CUDDALORE: More than 560 schools situated in the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu have been affected by Black Sunday’s tsunami attack.

A preliminary state-wide assessment of these schools has revealed that as many as 200 institutions had been either reduced to rubble or partially damaged causing an estimated loss of over Rs 50 crore.

School Education Department sources said that nearly 2,000 classrooms would have to be reconstructed and a detailed survey was underway to assess the exact quantum of the loss.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Textbook Corporation (TNTC) is gearing up to meet the uphill task of distributing free textbooks and notebooks to tsunami-affected children before January 10, though it had lost its own stock of textbooks worth Rs 75 lakh to the hungry sea waves.

I don't know how much "Rs 50 crore" is, but I'm guessing: a lot.

It's a similar story in Sri Lanka, but with an arboreal twist. Sometimes trees deserve to be hugged:

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's teachers are doing something not found in their job descriptions. Dozens are looking for sturdy, shady trees to set up outdoor classrooms.

Which just goes to show that when people want education, they get it. Not even a giant wave can stop it for very long.

"A good tree will be fine to start an open-air school in areas where we can't repair the building," said Medagama. "Some of the schools have just disappeared and some have collapsed," Medagama said. "Those which are standing will need furniture and massive cleaning. But this is not going to stop us from restarting schools."

The corollary is that when people don't want education, fancy buildings are not likely to change that very much.

I say: give generously.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 05:16 PM
Category: AsiaGeography
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