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Moroccan children walk long distances to tent school following earthquake

Students attend class at a makeshift school in Asni   -  
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FADEL SENNA/AFP or licensors


Some students in the disaster-hit region surrounding Asni have been heading into the small Moroccan town to go to school.

But the building it not an ordinary one. Classes are being held in traditional tents which have been set up as makeshift premises for the 2,800 middle and high school students.

"The site contains 32 large tents to accommodate the students, 16 tents for middle school students and another 16 tents for vocational high school students," says art teacher, Khalil Tizoula.

Many of the young people flocking to the tent school lost family members in Morocco’s recent devastating earthquake.

And while classes have not yet officially resumed, teachers are providing them with a distraction and badly-needed psychological support.

"Initially, we listed 242 schools affected by the earthquake, 33 of which were completely destroyed,” says Mohamed Zerrouki, the provincial director of national education.

“The authorities have taken the necessary steps to rebuild them as quickly as possible, while guaranteeing that teaching continues and the return of students and teachers to their classrooms."

The young people coming to the temporary school in Asni are some of the one million schoolchildren that the United Nations says were impacted by the earthquake.

Teachers say that despite the shared trauma, they hope to help them and make the school year a success.

For some of the students, being back at school surrounded by friends is a relief, even if it is in a tent.

But others say their emotional distress runs too deep and they do not feel ready to resume classes.

Either way, as the school day ends, most of them face a long walk, or if they are lucky a ride, to get back home to their villages.

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