International Day to Protect Education from Attack, 9 September

Around the world, attacks on children continue unabated, as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children. The protracted nature of conflicts today is affecting the futures of entire generations of children. Without access to education, a generation of children living in conflict will grow up without the skills they need to contribute to their countries and economies, exacerbating the already desperate situation for millions of children and their families.

A child’s right to education cannot be safeguarded in conflict zones without education itself being protected. Education can be a life-saver. Out of school, children are easy targets of abuse, exploitation and recruitment by armed forces and groups. School should provide a safe space where children can be protected from threats and crises. It is also a critical step to breaking the cycle of crisis and reduces the likelihood of future conflicts.

Background

The day was established by a unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly, calling on UNESCO and UNICEF to raise awareness of the plight of millions of children living in countries affected by conflict. The resolution proclaiming the Day was presented by the State of Qatar and co-sponsored by 62 countries.

The General Assembly resolution affirms that governments have the primary responsibility to provide protection and ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels to all learners, especially those in vulnerable situations.

It further emphasizes the need to intensify efforts and increase funding to promote safe and protective school environments in humanitarian emergencies by taking all feasible measures to protect schools, learners and educational personnel from attack, refrain from actions that impede children’s access to education, and facilitate access to education in situations of armed conflict.

UNESCO and UNICEF will facilitate the annual observance of the Day in close collaboration with partners within and outside the UN system. Working on the frontlines in conflict-affected countries, the UN entities have long assisted Member States in strengthening their capacity to provide access to quality educational opportunities for all in times of crisis.

Did you know?

In 2020 and 2021, there were more than 5,000 reported attacks on education and incidents of military use of schools and universities, harming more than 9,000 students and educators in at least 85 countries.

Attacks on education and military use of schools increased by one-third in 2020 compared to 2019, and remained at the same rate in 2021.

Six attacks on education or incidents of military use occurred each day.

Explosive weapons were used in around one-fifth of all reported attacks on education during the reporting period.

The highest incidences of attacks on education schools were in Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Myanmar, and Palestine.

With Agency Report