This report begins by examining some of the explicit and implicit causes of attacks on girls’ education during peacetime and in situations of crisis, including settings of armed conflict, political instability and widespread criminal violence. It looks at the impact of attacks against girls accessing education on their rights to and within educational systems as well as the broader consequences of these attacks on the promotion and protection of human rights through education by focusing on the linkages between education and a host of other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The applicable international legal and policy framework is then outlined and the situation of girls accessing education within settings of crisis, political instability and conflict is analysed in greater detail. The final section of the report provides several recommendations to States and other stakeholders aimed at preventing and redressing violations of girls’ rights to, within and through education.
This report documents how violence, threats and intimidation carried out by parties to the conflict in Afghanisatn directly harmed or impacted health and education personnel, reduced the availability of healthcare,and limited children’s access to essential health and education services. Schools and hospitals were damaged or destroyed by targeted attacks and crossfire, with many remaining closed due to insecurity, threats or military use.
The findings of this report are based on data collected from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015 by the Human Rights Unit of UNAMA and UNICEF. The report focuses on attacks and incidents directly linked to the conflict – excluding criminal attacks affecting schools and hospitals and attacks carried out by private actors.
Data from a case study commissioned by UNICEF on crossfire is also included. All data is analysed through the framework of applicable international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international criminal law and national legislation, as well as United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1612, 1882, 1998, and 2143.
Sixteen years after the US-led military intervention in Afghanistan ousted the Taliban, an estimated two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school. The aim of getting all girls into school was never fully realised, and the proportion of students who are girls is even falling in some parts of the country. The vast majority of the millions of Afghan children not in school are girls, and only 37 percent of adolescent girls are literate, compared to 66 percent of adolescent boys.
'I won’t be a doctor, and one day you’ll be sick: Girls’ access to education in Afghanistan' is based on 249 interviews in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, and Nangarhar provinces, most with girls who were kept from completing their education.
The report describes how, as security in the country worsens and international donors disengage, progress made toward getting girls into school is at risk. Afghanistan’s government provides fewer schools for girls than boys. Many children live far from a school so are not able to attend, which particularly affects girls. About 41 percent of schools have no buildings, and many lack boundary walls, water and toilets—disproportionately affecting girls. Girls are kept home due to gender norms that do notvalue or permit their education, or due to security concerns. A third of girls marry before age 18, and forces many girls out of school.
The report calls on the Afghan government, and its international donors, to increase girls’ access to education through protecting schools and students, institutionalising and expanding models that help girls study, and taking concrete steps to meet the government’s obligation to provide universal free and compulsory primary education.
Children in Afghanistan – and their households may face war, displacement, migration and natural disasters in trying to access education, in addition to more common difficulties such as poverty and lack of access. This study, part of the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children launched by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Institute for Statistics (UNESCO UIS), seeks to identify the barriers preventing children in Afghanistan from attending school, identify gaps in the current approaches to addressing these barriers and provide policy recommendations to move forward effectively. This is in line with the studies conducted elsewhere at the country and regional level for the out-of-school children initiative (OOSCI), based on existing data.
At the end of 2019, at least 13.4 million school-age children (5-17 years old) were internally displaced due to conflict or violence. These numbers are likely an underestimate with many internally displaced children unaccounted for due to lack of data. The periods of internal displacement are becoming longer, with years becoming decades and internally displaced children spending the majority of their school-years displaced. The majority of these children do not have access to quality, safe and inclusive education due to discrimination, financial, legal, and insecurity barriers.
The five country case studies (Afghanistan, Colombia, Somalia, Syria Ukraine) in this report demonstrate that adopting legal and policy frameworks is not enough to uphold the right to education for internally displaced children. Challenges to implementing these policies are linked to institutional, financial, political, and cultural factors.
Around the world, higher education communities are overwhelmed by frequent attacks on scholars, students, staff, and their institutions. State and non-state actors, including armed militant and extremist groups, police and military forces, government authorities, off-campus groups, and even members of higher education communities, among others, carry out these attacks, which often result in deaths, injuries, and deprivations of liberty. Beyond their harm to the individuals and institutions directly targeted, these attacks undermine entire higher education systems, by impairing the quality of teaching, research, and discourse on campus and constricting society’s space to think, question, and share ideas. Ultimately, they impact all of us, by damaging higher education’s unique capacity to drive the social, political, cultural, and economic development from which we all benefit.
Through its Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, Scholars at Risk (SAR) responds to these attacks by identifying and tracking key incidents, with the aim of protecting vulnerable individuals, raising awareness, encouraging accountability, and promoting dialogue and understanding that can help prevent future threats. Since 2015, SAR has been publishing Free to Think, a series of annual reports analyzing attacks on higher education communities around the world.
Free to Think 2021 documents 332 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries and territories. This year was marked by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than five million lives. For higher education, the pandemic continued to disrupt academic activity, keeping many institutions in remote states of operation and suspending most academic travel. For scholars and students, the pandemic also continued to raise questions, concerns, and criticisms about state responses to public health crises, government accountability, and societal inequities. Scholars and students took on these issues in the classroom and more public venues, in-person and online, asserting their academic freedom and their rights to freedoms of expression and assembly. They also responded to acute and more long-standing political conflicts, from Myanmar’s coup to the steady erosion of human rights in Turkey, demanding civilian led government and the protection of fundamental freedoms. Frequently, however, individuals and groups opposed to their questions and ideas sought to silence them.