25.09.2012 - ODG

Irina Bokova calls for better protection of education in situations of conflicts

© UNESCO -UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova speaking at the UN General Assembly Side Event on Delivering Quality Education in Humanitarian and Conflict-affected Environments, New York, September 2012.

On 24 September, the Director-General participated in the UN General Assembly Side Event on 'Delivering Quality Education in Humanitarian and Conflict-affected Environments' where she made a powerful appeal to place education at the heart of peace building and to better integrate emergency responses with long-term development aid. The meeting came just two days ahead of the launch of the Secretary General's new global initiative on "Education First".

"We need to target four systemic failures," stated Irina Bokova, "the failures of protection, provision, reconstruction and peace building -- and we must focus far more on the situation of girls and women." In the world today, 28 million children are out-of school, 47% of which live in countries affected by conflicts. These are countries that are least likely to achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals. The Director-General reminded that education investments count for less than 2% of the global humanitarian funding.

The Director-General drew attention the UNESCO 2011 Global Monitoring Report on Education for All on this "hidden crisis". She also highlighted the need to implement effectively the UN Security Council Resolution 1998 and UNESCO's work on operational guidelines for this. She noted also the leading work of the Qatar Foundation and Her Highness Sheikha Moza in ringing the bell on this issue.

The Side Event was convened by UNESCO with Mr. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, UNICEF, Save the Children, the Governments of Norway and Denmark and the Global Partnership for Education. Participants made strong appeals for the necessity to ensure predictable funding to education in emergency situations.

"If we don't invest in education, we undermine all efforts to improve health, access to water, etc. We cannot wait: when in Somalia, for example, a conflict lasts for 20 years, it is impossible to postpone education for 20 years. There is no bigger challenge, and no more noble cause than the protection of education," stated Gordon Brown, the Secretary General Special Envoy for Global Education.

"I was in South Sudan a few weeks ago and the population there are not asking for a shelter, although they need one, and they do not ask for food, although they need it, but they ask for an education".

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