Protecting Education from Attack

Non-stop firing in their neighborhoods and gang wars in the area forced to hold classes at rooftop of building, Pakistan.

© UNESCO/Akhtar Soomro
Non-stop firing in their neighborhoods and gang wars in the area forced to hold classes at rooftop of building, Pakistan.

In the contexts of conflict and fragility, targeted violent attacks are carried out for political, military, ideological, sectarian and/or ethnic reasons against teachers, students, academics, education trade unionists and education officials, as well as humanitarian and development education workers. These incidents involve the deliberate use of force in ways that disrupt and deter educational provision, deny individuals their right to access quality learning, and put them at risk in environments that should be protective. 

To document these gross violations, UNESCO commissioned a study in 2007 entitled Education under Attack. The aims of this ground-breaking work were to detail the incidence of attacks on schools, teachers and students and to draw attention to the need for concerted action to stop them. Subsequently, UNESCO published Education under Attack 2010 and Protecting Education from Attack: A State-of-the-Art Review. It also convened publication launches (Paris, Geneva, New York), an international expert seminar and several follow-up meetings which have led to the creation of the inter-agency Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack’ (GCPEA). 

Building on the findings of this work, UNESCO is actively engaged in collaborative efforts to reduce the incidence of education-related attacks and to end impunity for such attacks. UNESCO is a core member of GCPEA and remains committed to raising awareness and contributing to policy dialogue; deepening research on effective prevention and response strategies; translating evidence into programmatic action; strengthening monitoring and reporting of violations; and encouraging compliance with existing normative instruments that prohibit violent attacks on the right to education.

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