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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Charity fears for Pakistan pupils
Child survivors
It is feared many child survivors may have been orphaned
A UK education charity fears many of the 900 pupils at its schools in Pakistan may have been killed or orphaned in the South Asia earthquake.

Learning for Life said children were in class at the time of the disaster - and there has been little news since.

"I'm nervous and afraid of what we will find", said Ujwala Samant, director of the body - which has 19 schools in some of the worst hit areas.

Saturday's quake left 23,000 people dead and affected up to four million.

Missing worker

Apart from the possibility that many pupils may have been killed, Learning for Life is concerned that others have lost their parents, or have been separated from them.

We have to be there for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of people
Ujwala Samant

Workers linked to Learning to Life are travelling to the areas to try to discover what happened to both the pupils and the school buildings.

There have been suggestions that four of the schools could be saved, said Ms Samant, but others are in areas that have been flattened.

Ms Samant is hoping to start getting more details on Thursday, but because it can take days to travel from one school to another in normal conditions, it could be weeks before the charity gets a full picture.

'Huge step'

Rebuilding the schools will also take time, in towns that desperately need them says Ms Samant.

Having a school represents "a huge step forward to the community in terms of education" she said.

In particular, the community-run schools have an above-average number of girls - with 45% currently attending and steps being taken to attract 60%.

Rebuilding them could take many months, but Ms Samant fears that people could soon forget those affected - just as winter sets in.

"We have to be there for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of people.

"The tsunami got a tremendous response and Pakistan needs the same respect and affection."


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