Education is a fundamental human right for all humans. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), education does not only represent the continuity of learning for children and youth who find themselves in emergency situations, but also a sense of normalcy and the key to unlocking a different future. Generations have been able to sail through crises and guide world towards a sustainable future through skills, knowledge and support gotten through education.
This is mostly true for vulnerable people such as migrants, people with disabilities, girls, refugees, and others. Students, children and educational personnel ought to be safe in educational spaces. However, people who are supposed to be safe in places of learning and the places are often collateral damage or direct targets in conflict-affected areas. Attacks on education have a likelihood of having serious, long-term psychological and physical consequences on students and teachers. Teaching and learning could be suspended by these attacks, leading to a rise in the rates of dropout and preventing students access to their right to quality education.
UNESCO and UNICEF are co-facilitators for the annual observance.
The United Nations General Assembly, on May 28, 2020, designated September 9 as the International Day to Protect Education from Attack under the adoption of Resolution 74/275. This day recognizes the significance of raising awareness of the need for the preservation of education and its protection from attack. Through the Resolution, UNESCO and UNICEF were designated as co-facilitators for the annual observance of this day. Stakeholders were also called upon to list this matter as a priority of the international agenda.
Stakeholders are also to act accordingly to ease the plight of students affected by conflicts. The commemoration of this day is regarded as a yearly platform for the amplification of the advocacy and galvanized action to protect learning and sustainable peace for everyone. The resolution of the General Assembly asserts that governments are saddled with the primary responsibility of providing protection and ensuring inclusive and equitable quality learning at all levels to all students, particularly those in vulnerable situations.
Protection of the civilian nature of students and educational personnel.
Also, the resolution stresses the need to improve efforts and increase funding for the promotion of safe and secured school environments in humanitarian emergencies by deploying all possible measures for protection of schools, learners and educational personnel from attack, facilitation of access to learning in situations of conflict, and refrain from actions that hinder the access of children to education. UNESCO and UNICEF are primarily responsible for the facilitation of the yearly commemoration of the day.
They are to do this in close cooperation with partners within and outside the United Nations (UN) system. These UN bodies work on the frontlines in conflict-affected nations and have long been assisting Member States in enabling the resilience of their capacity for provision of access to quality educational opportunities for everyone during times of crisis. According to the principle of distinction of International Humanitarian Law, the civilian nature of students and educational personnel should be recognized, protected and never targeted.
Protection of education and justice for victims.
Armed conflicts pose devastating stumbling blocks to learning and access to equitable, quality, inclusive and safe education. Protracted conflicts have negative effects on the future of entire generations of learners, especially children and other vulnerable groups, with long-term consequences that deprive them of lifelong learning opportunities, development, economic prosperity and peace. The theme of this year’s International Day to Protect Education from Attack is “protection of education and justice for victims.” The observance will highlight the voice of youth and the need for their inclusion in decision-making procedures.