WIDESPREAD ATTACKS ON EDUCATION WORLDWIDE MORE THAN 11,000 ATTACKS IN PAST 5 YEARS – GCPEA REPORT – EDUCATION UNDER ATTACK 2020

View original on GCPEA.

More than 22,000 students, teachers, and academics were injured, killed or harmed in attacks on education during armed conflict or insecurity over the past five years, according to Education under Attack 2020, a 300-page report published by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). More than 11,000 separate attacks on education facilities, students and educators took place between 2015 and 2019. 

Attacks on education include bombing and burning schools and universities, and killing, maiming, raping, abducting, arbitrarily arresting, and recruiting students and educators at, or enroute to and from, educational institutions by armed forces, other state actors, or armed groups, during armed conflict or insecurity. 

Education under Attack 2020 finds that the number of countries experiencing attacks on education has increased in recent years. Between 2015 and 2019, 93 countries experienced at least one reported attack on education, marking an increase of 19 affected countries, up from 74 countries in the previous reporting period of 2013-2017.  

Attacks on education emerged in new countries, including Guinea and Nicaragua. In Burkina Faso and Niger, which were only minimally affected in prior years, attacks rose starkly, contributing to the closure of more than 2,000 schools. Non-state armed groups operating in these two countries carried out many of these attacks.  

Numbers of attacks on education remained alarmingly high in Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with each experiencing over 1,500 documented attacks on schools. Afghanistan, Palestine, and Syria each experienced over 500 attacks on schools. In Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, GCPEA found the widespread use of explosive weapons during targeted and indiscriminate attacks on educational institutions.  

Students and educators were most frequently harmed by direct attacks in Afghanistan, Cameroon, and Palestine. In Cameroon, over 1,000 school and university students and staff were threatened, abducted, injured, or killed by armed groups or state armed forces.  

Attacks on higher education were reported in 73 countries. Law enforcement, military forces, or pro-government armed groups used excessive, even lethal, force to disperse university students and staff protesting on campuses or over education-related grievances, primarily in situations of insecurity. In 36 of the 37 countries profiled, over 9,100 higher education students and staff were injured, killed, abducted, or arrested between 2015 and 2019.  

A significant – and preventable – cause of attacks was the use of schools for military purposes, GCPEA found. Armed forces, other state actors, and armed groups used schools and universities for military purposes in 34 countries between 2015 and 2019, including as bases, detention centers, and weapons stores. In Myanmar, the United Nations verified 51 incidents of military use in 2019. In one example, armed forces used a school to detain over 270 men and boys in Rakhine State, opening fire and killing six prisoners and wounding eight.  

Armed groups or armed forces also targeted schools to recruit children. In the past five years, state armed forces or armed groups reportedly recruited students from schools in 17 countries. In Somalia, the UN verified that armed groups recruited at least 280 children from schools in 2017.

Armed forces, security forces, or armed groups were reportedly responsible for sexual violence in, or on the way to or from, schools and universities in at least 17 countries in the past five years.  

The overall number of attacks globally declined slightly from the 2013-2017 reporting period, from 12,700. In 2015-2019, attacks on education significantly decreased in 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestine, South Sudan, and Ukraine.  

Attacks on education not only kill or injure individual students and teachers, they also impact communities for years. With buildings or teaching materials destroyed and students and teachers living in fear, schools and universities close and some students never resume their education, impeding long-term development. 

Attacks on education have specific impacts on female students and educators. GCPEA found that women and girls were targeted due to their gender in attacks on education in at least 21 countries between 2015 and 2019. Pregnancy from rape, the health consequences and stigma of sexual violence, the risk of early marriage, and the privileging of boys’ education over girls’, all make it particularly difficult for girls to return to school.  

Governments and armed groups should end attacks on education and refrain from using schools and universities for military purposes, GCPEA said. Governments need to hold those responsible for attacks to account, develop gender-responsive safety and security plans to prevent and respond to attacks, and strengthen monitoring and reporting of attacks on education. Donors, international organizations and civil society should support governments in these endeavours. 

Support for Education under Attack 2020 has been generously provided by the Education Above All Foundation, Education Cannot Wait, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an anonymous donor.  

‘ATTACKS ON STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND SCHOOLS SURGE IN AFRICA’S SAHEL’ – GCPEA

First International Day to Protect Education from Attack Addresses Violations Globally

View original on GCPEA

8 September 2020, New York – The Central Sahel has seen a significant spike in attacks on students, teachers, and schools since 2018, according to a new report released today by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). The report is launched ahead of the first ever United Nations International Day to Protect Education from Attack on September 9, 2020.

Supporting Safe Education in the Central Sahel noted over 85 attacks on education in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger between January and July 2020, despite Covid-19-related school closures between late March and May. At least 27 attacks on middle schools were recorded in Mali when schools reopened for children to take their exams in June.

These attacks follow an alarming increase in attacks on education across the Central Sahel in recent years. In Burkina Faso and Niger, attacks on education more than doubled between 2018 and 2019, contributing to the closure of more than 2,000 schools. In Mali, over 60 attacks on education took place in 2019 alone, with over 1,100 schools closed.

Non-state armed groups targeted state education across the Central Sahel, most commonly by burning and looting schools and threatening, abducting, or killing teachers, the report said. State forces and non-state armed groups also used dozens of schools for military purposes, including as camps and temporary bases.

Female students and educators are specifically affected by attacks, GCPEA found. Pregnancy from rape, the health consequences and stigma of sexual violence, the risk of early marriage, and the privileging of boys’ education over girls’ all make it particularly difficult for girls to return to school.

“The International Day to Protect Education from Attack is a crucial moment to highlight the scope and enormous cost that attacks on education have on the lives and futures of students and communities,” said Diya Nijhowne, executive director of GCPEA. “But it is also a time to recognize the significant progress made towards protecting students and educators, including through widespread adoption of the Safe Schools Declaration and advances in its implementation.”

The Safe Schools Declaration, a political commitment to protect students, educators, schools, and universities in armed conflict, currently has 104 state signatories. By endorsing the declaration, countries commit to take concrete steps to protect education in armed conflict, including by using the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.

GCPEA calls for coordinated, targeted, and sustainable support to implement the Safe Schools Declaration and keep students, teachers, and educational facilities across the Central Sahel safe from attack. This includes prioritizing and funding measures to prevent, mitigate, and respond to attacks on education within humanitarian response and development plans and programs. As the three Central Sahel countries confront interlinked humanitarian crises, regional efforts should also be taken to reinforce monitoring and reporting of attacks and develop prevention and response plans.

The Ministerial Roundtable on the Central Sahel, to be hosted by Denmark, Germany, the European Union, and the UN on October 20, provides a key opportunity to place protection of education firmly on the humanitarian agenda.

The Central Sahel report draws on new data from the coalition’s flagship report, Education under Attack, which identified more than 11,000 attacks on education facilities, students, and educators between 2015 and 2019, harming, injuring, or killing more than 22,000 students, teachers, and academics globally.

As schools in the Central Sahel and globally resume after Covid-19 lockdowns, GCPEA urges governments to ensure that education providers conduct risk assessments prior to reopening and enact appropriate security measures where needed to minimize students’ and teachers’ risk of attack. Where schools and universities cannot reopen safely, alternative and distance measures should be put in place. GCPEA also urges governments and education providers to ensure that any post-Covid-19 “back-to-school” campaigns and catch-up classes include learners previously excluded from studies by attacks on education. Governments and education providers should also ensure that distance-learning programs established in response to Covid-19 are accessible to and benefit learners affected by attacks and insecurity.

“On this first International Day to Protect Education from Attack and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments and donors should act to keep students and educators, schools, and universities safe from attack in the Central Sahel and globally,” Nijhowne said. “As programs and policies are developed to support the continuation of education during the health crisis, there is an opening to ensure that they incorporate protection against attack, and include students excluded from learning due to past attacks.”