“The time is now to act decisively to protect children and their right to education from conflict.”
Henrietta Fore, Former Executive Director, UNICEF
“Protecting education from attack: A call for improving data monitoring and policy response,” a webinar organized by UNESCO, is the latest effort to formulate a strategic approach to protecting children’s right to education during times of conflict. The webinar, scheduled for tomorrow, 7 July at 7:30 to 9:00 am EDT, comes during massive education interruptions in conflict zones like Ukraine and regions where the right to education is discriminatorily honored such as Afghanistan.
In recent years, the topic of protecting schools and education has grown in urgency, evidenced by 111 nation states adopting the Safe School Declaration, opened for endorsement in 2015. However, many nations have not yet endorsed the declaration and certain conflicts have created an immeasurable loss in learning.
For example, in Ukraine, more school have been damaged in the first 100 days of the ongoing conflict with Russia than in the previous seven years. As a result, the education of 7.5 million children was interrupted.
It is urgent that all these children and others affected by conflicts can return to learning as soon as safely possible. Many believe that the key in ensuring education continuity lies in better data-sharing systems that allow for quicker reactions and, more importantly, more quality insight that proactively safeguards learning for children when conflict looms.
The UNESCO webinar’s stated goal is to “enhance government capacities to formulate and implement evidence-based policies on attacks on education within national data systems to better guide their actions towards realizing SDG 4.” It is a side event of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) High Level Political Forum taking place from 5-15 July.
Well-being, one of CE International’s practice areas, is predicated on children living and learning in safe and secure settings. Unfortunately, safety in schools is trending negatively as in 2020, there were 535 verified attacks on schools — an increase of 17 per cent compared to 2019. With ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and more, millions of children are inevitably suffering trauma that will be with them for a lifetime. While it is crucial to prevent such trauma wherever possible, we also must be prepared to support when it cannot be avoided. Our free course “Understanding the Impact of Trauma on Young Children” is a useful introduction to the topic.