Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa inaugurated the school year in the coastal area of the country Monday for the remaining children who were unable to return to classes due to the damages left by the powerful earthquake that struck in April.
"Just 79 days after the tragedy of April 16, we celebrate that all children and youth from all affected areas return to school to study, to dream, to continue fighting with strength and dignity," said President Correa in a school located in Manabi province, one of the most devastated areas.
On May 9, only three weeks after the earthquake, more than 75 percent of the schools in the coastal area began classes.
The president spoke in one of the 26 education centers that were built in the provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas to offer classes.
"Building these magnificent educational units, that we wrongly called them provisional, but with care could easily last about 25 years," said Correa.
The president was was accompanied by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, who arrived in the country to observe the reconstruction work and economic recovery efforts developed by the government.
The Minister of Education, Augusto Espinosa explained that the construction of these educational units meets the objective of "delivering formal education in those cities who lost everything."
According to Espinosa, the schools have a stronger infrastructure and are better quality than those before that were completely destroyed after the earthquake.
The new schools have 30 classrooms, computer labs, chemistry and physics labs, sports fields, and administrative offices. The total investment for these units was US$810,000 each.
More than 280 schools were damaged by the earthquake that hit Ecuador, leaving about 120,000 children without education, according to UNICEF.