Without Education, There is No Peace
Education Cannot Wait Executive Director Yasmine Sherif Statement on the International Day of Peace
21 September 2023, New York – The International Day of Peace provides a clarion call to us all to redouble efforts to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, and place education at the center of our global efforts to achieve a world of peace and security. Without education, there is very little foundation for a just and genuine peace in any country. Without access to safe and protective learning environments, there is no human security. Without qualified teachers and education for all, there is no equality.
This year we mark the halfway point toward delivering on the promises outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals, while at the same time commemorating the 75th Anniversaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
Despite these landmark commitments made 75 years ago, armed conflict remains a clear and present threat to many people across the globe today. In all, about 449 million children worldwide live in a conflict zone. That’s one out of six children. This cannot be the 21st Century we want to leave behind in the history books for future generations.
In Africa, 180 million girls and boys are suffering through the terrors of war, forced recruitment into armed groups, fear for their dignity and lives, dispossession and displacement. The war in Sudan, and upticks in violence across other parts of Africa, are making matters even worse for millions of school-aged children and adolescents.
In Asia, 152 million girls and boys are impacted in conflict zones. There are Rohingya children and youth that have fled persecution, human rights violations and alleged crimes against humanity, only to find new challenges in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, 64 million children are caught in brutal violence. It’s a generational challenge marked by criminal activity, decades-old violent disputes, forced displacement and inequality.
This is not just a problem of the Global South. Danger lays at the doorsteps of Europe and North America. In Ukraine alone, 5.7 million school-aged children are caught in the crosshairs of a brutal armed conflict. They didn’t start the fire, but they are the ones whose lives risk being reduced to ashes.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and our broad coalition of strategic partners in the United Nations, civil society, member states, local communities and the private sector are working tirelessly on the frontlines of these crises to provide children and adolescents with the safety and hope that only a quality education can provide.
In Sudan and neighboring countries impacted by the internal armed conflict and regional refugee crisis, there are now 2 million displaced school-aged children in need of urgent support. By ramping up fast-acting responses, we are getting girls like Samiya back to school, back to learning, back to a pathway towards a peaceful future.
In Cameroon, where separatists are attempting to weaponize education and instill fear into the hearts of children, we are working with our partners to create safe educational opportunities for girls like Hadiza.
In Haiti, a country plagued by gangs, violence, poverty and hunger, we are making sure children like Darline have nutritious meals, mental health and psychosocial supports, and a vast array of holistic educational opportunities so they can build towards a brighter future.
Peace is possible within our lifetime, but it requires both national security and human security, and above all, justice and human rights. In achieving the goal of a sustainable and genuine peace, the greatest investment we can make is to ensure a quality education for all.