Safe learning in Tajikistan
For the students in the small village of Umarak, attending classes at the local school was a daily risk. The building was both unsuitable and outright dangerous. Mission East now made the school day safe with the opening of a brand new school.
The new school opened in December 2020, and the timing could not be better: January is the coldest month in Tajikistan with temperatures that can reach well below zero. The old school was uninsulated and therefore so cold that it was decidedly unsuitable for teaching.
“Before it was quite uncomfortable to teach in the old building due to winter harshness. But now, the newly constructed school is completely insulated,” says Shokirova Gulchehra, who teaches at Umarak School.
When the ground shakes
In addition to being poorly insulated, the old school building was also both dilapidated and not originally built to withstand earthquakes. With more than 200 earthquakes recorded in the past year, earthquakes are frequent occurrences in Tajikistan.
Solehzoda Sunhatullo, Head of Education Department in Darvoz district of Tajikistan, says: “The old school building was vulnerable to both weather and natural disasters such as earthquakes, heavy snowfall as well as fire. I was always worried about the safety of school children.”
However, local funds were not sufficient to repair the existing building, and local authorities requested Mission East for assistance.
A brand new school
Mission East chose to build a brand new building as it was estimated that the cost of repairing the existing building and making it earthquake-resistant would be higher.
After the land was made available by the authorities, work began in early 2020 and now, less than a year later, the school is open and the students at their desks.
The school is run by the local authorities like the other schools in the area and the school is constructed according to national standards taking all necessary measures into consideration.
“The new school building in Umarak village is disaster resilient and well-isolated. The learning environment has significantly improved,” says Solehzoda Sunhatullo.
As a teacher at the school, Shokirova Gulchehra is also very excited about her new workplace: “Teachers and students alike are happy to teach and learn in a comfortable environment without worrying about the weather harshness.”
Part of a larger programme
The school building is funded by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg through the PATRIP Foundation. PATRIP works with trusted NGO partners to support border communities facing challenges of isolation, violence and poverty.