This indicator includes situations where state armed forces or non-state armed groups partially or fully occupy schools or universities, and use them for purposes that support a military effort. This includes using educational facilities as bases or temporary shelters, fighting positions, weapons storage facilities, detention and interrogation centers and military training or drilling soldiers (GCPEA, 2020 Education under attack report).

Schools and universities should be understood in a broad sense: the term includes primary and secondary schools, colleges, as well as kindergartens, preschools, technical and vocational training schools and non formal education sites. It also includes related infrastructure, such as playgrounds, libraries, school buses, university campus dorms and others.


Schools and universities are protected as civilian objects under International Humanitarian Law. Military use of educational facilities may lead to the partial or complete closing of schools and universities, hampering access to andt the availability of education. Military use also increases the likelihood of attack and may change the school/university from a civilian object to (legitimate) military target. 

If school and universities are occupied and used for military purposes, there is a high chance that the out-of-school rate will rise and enrolment and attendance rates will decrease. In the long-term, transitional rates might also be impacted as well as quality of education. Using school for military purposes disturbs and interrupts education, puts students, teachers and other educational staff in danger and makes schools vulnerable targets to attacks by opposing forces. A high number of reported incidents of military use of schools creates a general climate of insecurity and fear which may be reflected in the overall picture of education, including the closure of schools for fear of attack and/or prevention of students and teachers from going to school, even where no incidents of military use of schools has been reported. 

Military use is often ongoing, in contrast to, for example, the bombing of a school. Once a school is occupied, a rival force may attack and take it over. This would result in continual occupation by different forces, which thus would reflect two instances of military use.

The indicator can be applied at regional, national or subnational level.

Available data: 

The United Nations reports on military use of schools as one of six grave violations against children in armed conflict. Find examples in the virtual library of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. Check also the annual reports of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack.

Human Rights Standards: 

Article 7, (g) (i) & article 8 (2) (b) (ix), Rome Statute;; Articles 48, 51 & 52, Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention, Article 1 (A), Article 2 (1), Article 13 (1,4), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Article 29 (2), 38, Convention on the Rights of the Child; Article 2, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict; Article 22, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; Article 14 (3), European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights; Article 17 European Social Charter (Revised). See also the Safe School Declaration and the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. UN Security Council resolutions: 1261 (1999), 1314 (2000), 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003), 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005), 1820 (2008), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011), 2068 (2012), 2143 (2014), 2225 (2015), 2427 (2018).

Types of Indicator: 
Levels of disaggregation: 
or each incident, document specially: I. Perpetrator A. State’s armed forces B. Non State armed forces II. Type and extent of the attack A. School is completely occupied B. School is partially occupied C. School is partially or completely closed D. Nature of the military use: interrogation facility, detention center, training camp, recruitment, storage for weapons and/or ammunitions and/or other military material, others (specify) E. Number of schools days missed due to military use Because connexions between military use and other attacks are common (sexual violence, child recruitement, etc), you might want to note down all correlated attacks.

Document specifically, for each incident: the number of students enrolled; the date, place and time of the attack (specify if it is ongoing); who is responsible for the attack (perpetrator); extent and nature of the attack (if the school is partially or completely occupied,  if the school is partially or completely closed, if educational activities continue in the non occupied area in case of partial occupation, the military use of the facility).