On the second International Day to Protect Education from Attack, Right to Education Initiative launches two new guides to support monitoring education under attack from a human rights perspective
Today marks the second International Day to Protect Education from Attack. It is a day to reflect on the 75 million children aged between 3 and 18 living in crisis-affected nations, for whom the right to education is under constant threat.
Education is not a privilege. It is a human right. Even in situations of conflict, states are bound by international law to uphold the right to education for all. Yet when conflicts hit, attacks on education often increase and the right to education is put at grave risk.
Between 2015-2019, more than 11,000 attacks on education were reported, affecting over 22,000 students, teachers and academics. Recent figures from the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) reveal more than 2,400 attacks on education facilities as well as students and educational personnel in 2020, representing a 33% increase on 2019. GCPEA data from 2021 so far show that this trend towards an increase of attacks on education shows no sign of abating - from Myanmar to Colombia to Afghanistan, attacks on education are causing untold suffering and immediate disruption to education centres and systems, with manifold long term impacts on the right to education.
When schools, teachers and students are attacked, the future of an entire generation of young people can be put at risk. Children in conflict affected nations are twice as likely to be out of school as those living through peace. Conflict deepens existing inequalities - aggravating the discrimination of girls and minotirty groups, and exacerbating previously existing divides based on gender, social class and religion. When school buidlings and infrastructure are damaged or occupied, students face multiple risks - from the deprivation of their education to physical and sexual violence, from recruitment into fighting to fatalities.
States are responsible for upholding the right to education, and many worldwide - 111 at the time of writing - have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, marking their commitment to take concrete steps to protect students, educational facilities and educators during armed conflict.
This is why monitoring education under attack is fundamental. It allows for the short and long term impacts of conflict on the education system to be measured, and enables policy makers to develop and implement strategies to prevent, minimise and reduce its consequences. Monitoring also helps verify state compliance with national and international obligations, to raise awareness, and to ensure that those responsible for violations of rights are held accountable.
Today, RTE launches two guides: Monitoring Education Under Attack from a Human Rights Perspective, and Education Under Attack: a guidance note for journalists and photographers. Both contain guidance and information on how and what to monitor and who to provide findings to - as well as a list of indicators to support the task.
Monitoring Education Under Attack from a Human Rights Perspective provides detailed but easy to navigate information on why and how to monitor, what to look for and how to collect data, and how and who to report to. It includes specific indicators to monitor education from a human rights perspective. It is designed to support civil society and education activists without a legal background to monitor and report on education under attack.
Education Under Attack: a guidance note for journalists and photographers recognises that the reporting of journalists and photographers makes the world aware of the impact of attacks on education. Their visual and written storytelling shines a light on the cost of ongoing conflicts and the daily implications for those who live them. Similarly, civil society organisations play a vital role in bearing witness and reporting from the front lines of conflict. There is an opportunity to improve collaboration between the two groups, to help civil society better document attacks on education, and help journalists uncover important stories from the front lines. This guide encourages collaboration on data collection and sharing, while highlighting how journalists and photographers can approach education under attack from a human rights perspective.
Monitoring - and enabling others to monitor and report on different dimensions of the right to education - is a core tenet of RTE’s work. The detail listed in these two publications is part of our broader monitoring guide project, which aims to enable and empower individuals to observe, report and inform on the right to education from a human rights perspective.
Today the world must reflect on the impact of conflict on education and the millions of children, young people and learners whose education is interrupted or permanently denied, who face physical risks in persuing their learning, or who are subject to physical, psychological or sexual violence when trying to access education. The worrying rise in attacks and volume of learners facing these challenges make action a priority. These guides aim to support those in diverse contexts, with or without legal training to take the essential steps to bear witness to and record the impact of attacks on education, to enable greater protection of children and learners of all ages, and to advance the right to education for all.