UNITED NATIONS - Thirty-five new schools constructed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with donor funding in the southern area of Pakistan’s Punjab, which was devastated by floods in 2010, have opened with 4,500 pupils attending classes, the agency reported Wednesday.

The schools, which have been handed over to the Punjab Education Department, are in the districts of Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur and Rahimyar Khan. The embassy of the Netherlands in Pakistan contributed $1.2 million for the construction of 24 schools, while the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) donated an additional $250,000, which was used to build seven schools, UNICEF said in a press release issued at UN Headquarters in New York.

Funding for the construction of four schools was provided by Italy, Hungary and Sweden, it said.

UNICEF said it initiated a schools reconstruction programme in the worst affected districts of southern Punjab and other parts of the country since most of the government school buildings were either damaged or completely destroyed. The agency also established temporary learning centres to ensure that children did not miss their academic year. Prefabricated school structures with all amenities have replaced the temporary learning centres, UNICEF said in an update. “The Child Friendly Schooling approach is interactive and makes learning fun for children,” Karen Allen, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Pakistan, was quoted as saying.

“It has elements of health and hygiene through provision of safe drinking water and improved sanitation, early childhood and development for preparing young children for school, playground and equipment for healthy physical activities, psychosocial support for rehabilitation of trauma-affected children, involvement of parents and community, and many other unique features that makes education attractive.”