According to official PNG government figures, at least 82 schools were destroyed or damaged in the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and following aftershocks that impacted more than half a million people on February 26 and March 5. The death toll is still unknown.
Save the Children is concerned this means as many as 9,000 children will not be able to return to school any time soon.
"These are just the children at the epicentre of the earthquake – those in the hardest hit areas. The damage to schools across all the affected provinces is not yet known, but could be disastrous," Save the Children's Country Director Jennifer El-Sibai said.
Save the Children has heard of some schools being closed indefinitely in the worst affected areas. The response from the Government of PNG and the international community so far has focused on lifesaving assistance including food, water and shelter but there is an urgent need to begin planning for restoring children's access to education as soon as possible.
Save the Children is already delivering emergency education in PNG because of the Kadovar volcano eruption in January, and is part of the humanitarian group working to assess just how significant the damage has been to schools.
"We have an obligation to ensure the potential of an entire generation of children is not limited because of this disaster and that children not only survive but are given the opportunity to thrive," Ms El-Sibai said.
"Save the Children is mobilising resources to assess schools and stands ready to support the government to re-establish these essential services."
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