“These desks have changed our classrooms”, said S. Murugesh, 12. “They are very smooth, and comfortable to sit on. They make our classrooms a better place to be in, than even before the tsunami.” His class mates remembered a time when they had to sit out in the open for their classes after the tsunami had destroyed buildings. “Insects used to fall on us from the tree above, or worms would crawl up on us from the ground. Sand was always getting into our notebooks,” chorused the children.
“The new desks make conditions in the classroom much more methodical and orderly. Children get used to a better style of functioning."
The village school was rebuilt after having been levelled to the ground during the Tsunami. Children were gathered for the official function when the UNICEF furniture supplies for the Nagapattinam schools were officially handed over to the district Collector Mr. J. Radhakrishnan, by Ms. Barbara Atherly, the UNICEF Tsunami coordinator for Tamil Nadu. The Japanese Government supported UNICEF for the furniture project.
The new furniture represents a much improved school environment for these young students, who have shown improved attendance levels and regularity in the light of these changes. The excitement and anticipation of the children expressed itself in different ways. Girls decorated their classrooms with ‘kolam’ designs, and dressed each other up in the costumes they would wear for a festive ‘kolattam’ dance during the function. The boys rendered a patriotic song and helped teachers with the function. They all seemed completely aware of the importance of the occasion.
Improved conditions within the classroom have already begun to have its effect on people’s lives and their level of motivation. Ms. Prabha, a teacher at the school said, “The new desks make conditions in the classroom much more methodical and orderly. Children get used to a better style of functioning. They are more confident in facing the world and interacting with visitors. They have also become very good at Sports. UNICEF supplied Teachers’ Learning Material is very helpful.”