Growing concern over safety and security prompted UN Secretary-General António Guterres to address the global phenomenon on Wednesday, during his speech at an event commemorating the International Day to Protect Education from Harm. attacks.
“Children’s education is being destroyed by threats, violence and attacks.” said Mr. Guterres during his speech to a group of world leaders and education advocates.
According to a new report from the nonprofit Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, more than 3,000 attacks on education were reported in 2022, an increase of 17% from the previous year.
The report reveals that more than 6,700 students and teachers were killed, injured, kidnapped or arrested, an increase of 20 percent.
Echoing some of the facts outlined in the report, the secretary-general noted that attacks on education range “from direct attacks on places of learning to schools and universities used for military purposes – to kidnapped students and educators , arbitrarily arrested, injured, killed – and even recruited for combat.
Many students attend school in dire circumstances, including in countries like Ukraine; still suffers from the large-scale invasion of Russia.
Some children in war-torn Ukraine have started the new school year taking classes underground for security reasons, according to media reports.
“We cannot always end conflicts. But we can ensure that children and young people experiencing these crises receive the educational support they need,” Mr. Guterres said.
The UN has outlined ways in which countries around the world can work together to protect education.
“This starts with all countries signing up to the Safe Schools Declaration, which details concrete measures and practices to ensure that places of learning – and the people there – are protected at at any time during armed conflict,” noted the UN chief.
Attacks on the education system are not the only factor preventing children from going to school.
Others are excluded from their class due to social, economic or cultural difficulties.
According to UNESCO, the United Nations agency for education, science and culture, around 244 million young people do not go to school.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the largest number of out-of-school children and youth – an astonishing 98 million.
Central and South Asia comes in second, with the second largest population, at 85 million, UNESCO added.
We must do more
The UN has reiterated the importance of education in paving the way to a better future for every person and promoting a peaceful world for all. Mr. Guterres urged world leaders to take immediate action for quality education.
“We can – and must – protect education from attack,” he concluded.