The most recent New Zealand earthquake to hit Christchurch was crueler than the first because kids were at school in a variety of buildings as opposed to being tucked up firmly in bed at home. While children at traditional schools were spared by single storey buildings and playgrounds in which to gather, those in Christchurch education centers in downtown high-rise buildings fared devastatingly worse.
New Zealand Education Minister Anne Tolley was visibly disturbed when she visited Christchurch recently, dabbing her eyes and putting her hand to her mouth as she shared parent’s shock and grief. What she saw of shattered buildings devastated her as well - up to 34 schools that survived the previous earthquake thanks to seismic hardening were condemned this time, and scheduled for demolition.
The Prime Minister did not mince his words either when he announced that casualties from the New Zealand earthquake might exceed 200 and that 10,000 homes could not be repaired following liquefaction of the earth beneath. Schools and other Christchurch education sites are also not the only ones without electricity, water, sewerage or safe access either, and the human trauma that resulted from the huge aftershocks has caused permanent emotional damage particularly to Christchurch’s children.
What went through the mind of a small child as the New Zealand earthquake rocked a classroom, walls and ceilings cracked and their lives tumbled down? And how ought a teacher mourn when there are gaps in an attendance register that were not there before? As many as 15,000 children currently find their education in limbo and many more have left town with their families in search of other options. How many special friendships were destroyed forever, and who can rebuild the future of Christchurch education when all these fine schools are badly damaged and apparently currently unsafe …
State Schools: Avonside Girls' High, Banks Avenue, Burwood, Chisnallwood Intermediate, Christchurch Girls' High, Ferndale, Freeville, Heathcote Valley, Heaton Normal Intermediate, Manning Intermediate, Mt Pleasant, North New Brighton, Phillipstown, Shirley Boys' High, Shirley Intermediate, Shirley, St Martin's and Kaiapoi Borough.
State-Integrated Schools: St James' (Aranui), St Peter's (Beckenham), Christ the King (Burnside), St Mary's (Christchurch), St Paul's (city), Our Lady of the Assumption (Hoon Hay), Our Lady of Fatima (Mairehau), Our Lady of Victories (Sockburn), St Albans Catholic, Catholic Cathedral College and Marian College.
Independent Schools: Christ's College, St Michael's Church School, Cathedral Grammar, Rangi Ruru Girls' School and St Andrew's College.
It will take many, many years for a City as fine and as tranquil as was Christchurch once, to recover from its tragic scars.