Acid attacks on Afghan girls, drive-by shootings of Colombian teachers, assassination of Iraqi academics and students, arson of schools in Thailand: These are only a few examples of the increasing violent political and military attacks on education. Urging the world to protect and defend education, EI has issued a formal Declaration that Schools Shall Be Safe Sanctuaries.
The Declaration voices the collective demand by teachers and their unions worldwide that education should be protected in times of conflict, and schools should be respected as zones of peace where children, youth and adults can build healthy communities.
“In most countries of the world, teachers and students do not have to worry about whether they are going to be shot on their way to school or blown up when they get there,” says EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “But increasingly in conflict countries and fragile states they are putting their lives at risk simply by turning up for lessons.”
Attacks on education take many appalling forms: bombing and burning of schools; illegal detention, disappearance, torture and assassination of teachers and union officials; abduction for extortion or forced recruitment of child soldiers, or rape by armed forces.
“The scale and atrocity of these attacks are horrific, and they are increasing,” said EI Deputy General Secretary Jan Eastman. “With this Declaration, EI is urging a series of steps to be taken at the international level to prevent these violations of fundamental human and trade union rights, and to ensure the safety and security of learners and teachers everywhere.”
EI’s Declaration contains seven articles, each articulating a call to action from the world community. They are:
- Reaffirm the commitment to the principle of the right to education in safety
- Take practical measures to ensure protection
- End impunity for attacks on students, teachers, academics, all other education personnel and education facilities
- Strengthen monitoring of attacks and efforts to end impunity
- Prioritise action and share expertise on resilience and recovery
- Make education an agent for peace
- Support campaigns of solidarity
The full text of the Declaration and a supporting guide can be found on the Education International web site at: www.ei-ie.org/healthandsafety