Attacks on schools: Action Education denounces violations of the right to education

On the occasion of the International Day for the Protection of Education from Attack (9 September), Action Education denounces the increasing attacks on schools, education staff and students and calls on governments, including France, to combat violations of the right to education. 

In the last five years, there have been 11,000 attacks on education in over 36 countries and 22,000 attacks on students, teachers and academics. In the last two years alone the trend has accelerated, with the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) in "Education under attack - Report 2022". The report, published on 1er Last June, it noted an increase of one third between 2019 and 2020. In total, nearly 5,000 schools and universities have been targeted or used for military purposes and more than 9,000 students, teachers and academics have been injured or killed. 

Attacks on the rise and with impunity

 " The COVID-19 has led to a regression of the most fundamental rights, by depriving access to health care, to food, by increasing the precariousness of the most vulnerable... But it has also increased the vulnerability of the education systems. Before the crisis, attacks on schools and violations of the right to education were already numerous. They have only increased since then: with schools closed, armed groups have had no qualms about using them for military purposes "This is the message of Action Education on the occasion of the International Day for the Protection of Education against Attack on 9 September. Created in 2020 at the United Nations General Assembly at the initiative of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, President of the Education Above All Foundation (EAA), this International Day aims to increase global advocacy for the protection of education from attack and to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for attacks on learners and education personnel worldwide.

Europe and the United States are not spared

Behind the term "attacks on the education system" are non-state armed groups that injure, abduct or murder students and education personnel, attack or use buildings for military purposes and destroy educational materials. These attacks violate not only the right to education but also all the rights guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In recent months, these attacks have increased in countries with open armed conflict such as Burkina Faso, Colombia, Ethiopia, Mali, Myanmar and Nigeria, and are emerging in other countries such as Mozambique and Azerbaijan. In Afghanistan, for example, between January and March 2021, explosive weapons killed or injured more than 180 students and teachers, the vast majority of them women and girls. With the return of war to Ukraine, Europe has not been spared. More than 2,000 schools and universities have reportedly been damaged since the Russian invasion began. Isolated attacks in officially peaceful countries are multiplying, as in France with the murder of Samuel Paty, a history teacher savagely killed outside his school, or in the United States, where forty-two acts of gun violence were recorded in 2021 in American schools according to the Washington Post. This figure is all the more worrying as it corresponds to a year in which schools remained closed for the first two months. 

It is imperative to stop the attacks

With nearly one in nine children living in conflict situations today, Action Education believes it is more necessary than ever to end violations of the right to education. Schools and universities must be safe places where students and educators can study and have protected access to all their rights. In recent months, Action Education has been speaking out, alongside the Education Coalition of which it is the leader, in forums denouncing the systematic and sustained attacks on the right to education, including in Afghanistan and in Ukraine and call on the international community, including France, to make inclusive quality education a priority in crisis response. Today, on the occasion of the International Day for the Protection of Schools from Attack, Action Education calls on states to ensure that the Declaration on School Safety _ a political commitment based on international humanitarian law and human rights to protect education in armed conflict _ to systematically report and prosecute grave violations of the right to education and to strengthen their actions for the protection of children in conflict situations.

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