In a press release on Saturday, which marks the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, the UN secretary-general António Guterres has called for a new push to defend vulnerable students and teachers worldwide.
Guterres said, “Education is not only a fundamental human right, but a pathway to a better future for every person, and a more peaceful, understanding world.”
He stated facts around the globe showed that 224 million children and young people urgently need educational support, including 72 million who are out of school due to armed conflict.
He also stated, “Attacks on students, teachers, educational personnel and schools are becoming all too common, cruelly disrupting young learners’ education, and inflicting untold psychological and physical damage that can last a lifetime.”
The secretary-general stated that there are also 763 million people around the world, including adults and youngsters, who lack basic literacy skills, therefore increasing education deficiency.
Guterres urged all countries to establish measures that will protect schools, children and teachers always through the Safe Schools Declaration and the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack. He stated that through joint efforts, schools can become “havens of safety and learning for every child, no matter where they live”.
Meanwhile, Guterres had, earlier this year published a report on children and armed conflicts. The report revealed that from January to December 2022, there was a 112 per cent rise in attacks targeting schools and hospitals, with hotspots identified in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Burkina Faso, Israel, Palestine, Myanmar, and Mali.
Based on the report, 50 per cent of grave violations were attributed to non-state armed groups. For example in Afghanistan,the UN confirmed 95 attacks on civilian targets, including 72 on schools.
However, the other 50 per cent involved government forces, who were primarily responsible for the gravest offences, including the killing and maiming of children, relentless assaults on schools and hospitals, and obstructing humanitarian access.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, a global organisation dedicated to saving lives and protecting the rights of refugees, said on Friday that by the end of 2022, the total number of school-aged refugees globally had increased from 10 million in 2021 to 14.8 million, especially due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.