GCE Statement on the occasion of the International Day to Protect Education from Attack on September 9th, 2022
On the occasion of the international day to Protect Education from Attack, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 74/275 of 12 May 2020, the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) renews its commitment to lasting peace and reiterates the call to respect the international humanitarian law, so that schools, teachers and especially students never appear as targets in armed conflicts nor are they used for any warlike purpose, much less as hostages or shields.
The GCE deplores the practice of forced recruitment of children and youth and strongly calls for eradicating this scourge that dramatically harms thousands of lives.
The report Education Under Attack 2020 (GCPEA, 2022) states that in 2020 and 2021, more than 5,000 reported attacks on education and incidents of military use of schools and universities, harming more than 9,000 students and educators in at least 85 countries. Of particular concern is the situation in Afghanistan, where schools, students and teachers have been increasingly targeted over the past three years.
According to this report, six attacks on education or incidents of military use occurred each day, including the use of explosive weapons in around one-fifth of all reported attacks on education during the reporting period.
While the highest incidences of attacks on education schools were in Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Myanmar, the previous report also revealed that Palestine ranked third in the world amongst the countries most affected by attacks on students, teachers and other education personnel during 2015-2019. The military use of schools and universities for military purposes was also significant.
The Safe School Declaration, so far endorsed by 104 states, as well as the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military use during armed conflict, are concrete mechanisms that should be universalised, moving from rhetoric to practice so that education can become an instrument to achieve positive peace and not a resource to prolong conflicts and destruction.
GCE calls on states to sign the Safe School Declaration and to assume the responsibilities that correspond to them individually and collectively so that no confrontation harms the right to education. The Transforming Education Summit convened by the UN Secretary-General is an ideal opportunity to build lasting agreements that lead to the protection of schools, universities, teachers and students from armed attacks. The GCE calls on states to allocate financial, political and social resources to move toward this end.