September 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 5 
Cover Story

Rebuilding a school, futures

Library, computer lab help a Turkish community recover from an earthquake

Rebuilding a school, futuresWhen a massive earthquake ravaged northwestern Turkey in the fall of 1999, it ripped deep into the heart of the rural province of Bolu by damaging a children's primary school.

Unemployment is high in this area, about two hours from Ankara, the Turkish capital. Without all the proper resources, the Inkilap Ilkogretim Okulu (the Inkilap Primary School), which serves first through eighth grades, faced challenges keeping children in school. Indeed, even before the earthquake, the school wasn't big enough to provide all students with a full day of schooling: Half the students attended in the morning, and the rest in the afternoon.

The 1999 earthquake made that situation worse. Not only did the earthquake destroy one school building and severely damage others, but the facility also was desperately needed to accommodate the influx of children resettling in the city of Bolu after the tragedy. The calamity also further shook an already underdeveloped Turkish educational system, which mandates eight years of school.

Immediately following the earthquake, Greg Pepin, president of Boeing Turkey, was asked to visit the ravaged area. After witnessing the enormous destruction, Pepin learned that immediately getting the children back in school was the most pressing issue. Acting fast, Boeing built an annex to the school and furnished eight classrooms, a computer lab and a science lab by school-year 2000. The annex enables all students to attend a full day of school.

"Boeing cares, not just helps," said Pepin. "We decided to take the Inkilap school under our wing because it was the right thing to do. Boeing is part of this country and community, and if the people are hurting and there is a dire need to help the children, then we should assist where we can."

"Thanks to Boeing for the annex building, our school was able to provide a more suitable educational environment, which has increased our school's success," said Ender Can, Inkilap headmaster.

Can added that thanks to the computer lab, the students' attention, interest and concerns have increased, which in turn helped improve their performance in other classes. Before the annex was built, the Inkilap Primary School always placed near the bottom on regional exams. In 2003, it placed second, and according to Can, the Boeing-funded resources made the difference.

In addition, since the computer lab is the only one in the community, it's used to train teachers at the school and in the area.

"I really believe that the boost in morale has made the kids want to do better in school, and they're proud of their school," added Pepin.

To ensure the kids in Bolu stay in school, Boeing continues to target needs and opportunities and then finances them. The rebuilt school didn't have a library or a place for the children to study, so Boeing provided funding to build and furnish a new library, which opens this month.

"Aid from a big company like Boeing to the society makes adults and children very happy," Can said. "Because Boeing is very well known, their assistance is appreciated in Bolu."

-Katherine Sopranos


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