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Education

Puerto Rican School Erupts With Cheers After Electricity Comes Back on for First Time in 112 Days

The scene at Academia Bautista de Puerto Nuevo (ABPN), an elementary school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was one of pure elatement last week. 

Children were screaming and darting in and out of classrooms. A teacher took out her cell phone to record a video, a wide smile across her face. A man cheered, “No pare, sigue, sigue!” (“Don’t stop, go on, go on!”) 

Why this eruption of cheering? After 112 days of attending classes in the dark, the school finally had regained access to electricity, according to a post on the school’s Facebook page

¡Luego de 112 días, HA VUELTO LA LUZ! 💡 Alegría indiscutible de todos los que formamos parte de la ABPN. Agradecemos a todos los padres, estudiantes y personal, que ante esta situación han permanecido y nos han continuado respaldando.

Posted by Academia Bautista de Puerto Nuevo on Thursday, January 11, 2018

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“After 112 days, THE POWER IS BACK!” the school wrote, alongside a light bulb emoji. “Undisputed joy from all of us who make up ABPN. We thank all of the parents, students and staff who have stayed and continued to support us throughout this situation.” 

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, nearly 20% of the island still lacks access to electricity, nearly four months after the storm hit, according to government statistics. While areas in and around the capital, San Juan, are now almost all back on the grid, one in four still lack electricity across much of the northern part of the island. 

Recently, the Department of Education reported that although most schools now have electricity, at least one school in every city on the island is still without it, according to MSNBC

Embed from Getty Images

Read More: 6 Weeks After Hurricane Maria, Nearly Half of Puerto Rico’s Schools Are Closed. Why? 

Lack of access to electricity in schools presents additional challenges. In Puerto Rico, where even in January temperatures average 77 degrees Fahrenheit, a lack of electricity also means no air conditioning, which can create stifling conditions for kids to learn in and teachers to teach in.  

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number four, quality education, which calls for building and upgrading educational facilities.

As climate change continues to disproportionately affect poorer, vulnerable coastal populations around the world, it will be critical for these schools to be ready to provide education in extreme circumstances. You can join us and call on world leaders to #FundEducation in developing countries around the world through the Global Partnership for Education here

In Puerto Rico, the challenges of restoring power not only to schools, but also to hospitals, factories, and single family homes may continue well into 2018. US Army officials have said they hope to restore power to 95% of the island by the end of March.  

But at least for students and teachers at one school, the wait is finally over, and that’s something to cheer about.