Are schools in Nepal Zones of Peace?
The UN System in Nepal expresses its deep concern at the increasing number of attacks on schools by some youth activists that are endangering the lives of children and jeopardising their right to education.
In May 2011 the Government of Nepal endorsed a directive declaring all schools, (including school buses) as Zones of Peace. This Schools as Zones of Peace (SZOP) directive was issued to ensure that schools remain a safe haven for children and where teaching and learning could continue unhindered in an atmosphere free of violence and interference.
The reports of arson and vandalism in schools and school buses go against the spirit of SZOP. While the incidents of the past weeks damaged school property, the most recent attacks on school buses, some with children still inside them, could have had disastrous consequences. Such acts of violence go against the basic principles of children’s right to education in a protective environment free from fear.
Nepal is also a signatory to the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and should therefore ensure that every child be provided their basic rights to grow, to learn and to play in peace. Fear and stress fills children's hearts with misgivings and makes them doubt their own future.
The UN System in Nepal appeals to the Government, the political parties, and all child protection partners and youth organisations to respect the spirit of Schools as Zones of Peace and to ensure that children in Nepal are allowed to thrive, grow and be educated in an atmosphere free of violence and terror. We condemn in the strongest possible terms these actions, and look to the authorities to launch investigations to identify those responsible.
Statement by Robert Piper, UN Resident Coordinator; Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative and Axel Plathe, UNESCO Representative
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