According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, coronavirus disrupts the education of more than one billion children worldwide, including many of the 75 million minors from countries in conflict. War makes everything worse.
In line with recent data from the United Nations, attacks on education caused by conflicts and lack of safety are on the rise: 11,000 were recorded between 2015 and 2019.
Violence deprives millions of vulnerable students of access to education, increases the drop-out rate, interrupts teaching for long periods and leads to armed groups recruiting children, early pregnancy, and sexual abuse.
This was the warning issued by the UN general secretary, António Guterres, who also called on the member states to fulfill the commitments made under existing international agreements, which ban illegal acts against the right to education.
The Portuguese diplomat stressed that the right of education is too often under attack, especially in areas under conflict, where learning can be denied to entire populations.
He explains that this hostility towards education can take various forms, targeting educational institutions, students, teachers and other staff.
Guterres emphasises the importance of knowing more about attacks on education in order to improve surveillance, information and investigation of such illegal actions, so that the culprits can be held accountable.
Countries have also been urged to ensure the provision of education services for everyone, even during times of conflict, particularly for refugees and people without a home, who are the most vulnerable. Education can prevent violent extremism and build more peaceful societies. “Without quality education for all”, he adds, “we cannot eliminate poverty, tackle inequality, fight climate change or promote peace: we simply cannot achieve the UN Objectives for a Sustainable Development”.
He underlines the fact that education is a basic human right, an engine essential for fostering peace, for promoting fair societies.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN general secretary pleaded for quality education for all and safe places for students in the face of repeated attacks against schools.
“During this health crisis it has been demonstrated how disproportionate the access to education is and, if we want to build a better world, we must take advantage of the opportunity [provided by] recovery”, said the general secretary during the high-level online meeting on the International Day for the Protection of Education against Attacks.
Covid-19 is causing the biggest disruption of education in history, due to the closure of schools in more than 160 countries.
More than 1 billion students worldwide are affected because schools are not open and at least 40 million children didn’t get the chance to go to nursery school. (PL)