Make every effort at a national level to collect reliable, relevant data on attacks on educational facilities, on the victims of attacks, and on military use of schools and universities during armed conflict, including through existing monitoring and reporting mechanisms; and to facilitate such data collection.
The Safe Schools Declaration includes a commitment to collect and report on attacks on education. Consistent and standardized collection of data allows for a better understanding of the type , motivations, and trends and patterns, scope, and scale of attacks on education and military use of schools and other education institutions so as to inform the design and implementation of preventive and protection measures. In particular, more States, civil society and international organizations should collect detailed, disaggregated data that describes the impacts of attacks on male and females, the levels of education affected, and geographical zones where incidents occur.
In 2005, the UN Security Council established the UN-led Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) through which the UN collects and verifies information on six grave violations against children perpetrated by armed actors. One of these violations is attacks on schools and other violations that may occur at, or on the way to or from, school, such as killing and maiming, abduction, recruitment, and sexual violence. Monitoring and reporting of military use of schools is required under the MRM, though it does not trigger the establishment of the MRM in a country.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of recommended actions to be undertaken by the government, security sector, civil society and international organizations to collect and report on relevant and reliable data.
Civil Society and International Organizations
EXAMPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE
Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s Education Sector Development Program for 2010-2015 recognized that the eight regions most affected by emergencies, including ethnic conflict, had limited data on the impact of emergencies on education. To address this, the Program included several strategies: collection of education in emergency (conflict and natural disaster) data that was subsequently used to inform planning and budgeting for education programming in these regions; integration of education in emergency data into other data collection systems, such as an Education Management Information System; creation of emergency preparedness response plans; and establishment of emergency preparedness task forces to implement and monitor the plans.
Georgia: During the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict, military observers monitoring the ceasefire agreement often overlooked school language policies and human rights and security issues. In response, human rights monitors from the UN peacekeeping presence briefed UN military observers on local human rights issues, including education, which led to improved understanding and reporting of school language issues. Monitors began including information on school language issues and related violations in their Situation Reports, eventually leading to the school language-related tensions being addressed at the military level and in political reporting up to the Special Representative of the UN-Secretary-General, which allowed for advocacy with Georgian and Abkhazian authorities. “
Nepal: Nepal’s Country Taskforce on the MRM found that working with local NGOs meant that children and communities were more comfortable sharing information than they would have been if they were reporting to external agencies. They preferred to report incidents verbally to the local organizations, rather than using the complaints boxes set up by international organizations.
Palestine: Beginning in 2010, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education used monitoring data to identify and update its list of most vulnerable schools. To define “most vulnerable” they specified qualification criteria, such as schools that had been directly bombed; were located in the border areas or access-restricted areas; had insecure roads leading to the school; were near the sites of security or training centers of resistance; or were near the tunnels in the south of the Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt. This information was subsequently used by UNESCO, which included these schools in the Crisis Disaster Risk Reduction Program implemented between 2011 and 2012. In November 2015, 110 out of 395 government schools in the Gaza Strip were included on the education ministry’s list of most vulnerable schools.
The Philippines: The Mindanao Peoples Caucus, formed in January 2003, trained 3,500 local volunteers, called the Bantay Ceasefire group, to monitor and report violations of the ceasefire agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government. Although their mandate is not specific to education, it includes monitoring attacks on schools. It is believed that knowledge of a civilian-led monitoring team observing and reporting on violations made armed actors more cautious.
Uganda: In Uganda, the MRM Taskforce engaged communities and others in MRM reporting by mapping out the different stakeholders who could help collect information. These included UN agencies, inter-agency humanitarian clusters, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), service providers, and community-based groups. The Taskforce subsequently developed mechanisms for coordinating information sharing between it and each of these actors. This facilitated reporting on grave violations, including attacks on schools. These mechanisms included meetings held on a rotating basis in two locations: the nation’s capital, Kampala, and the northern Gulu District. The fact that not all meetings were held in the capital enabled stronger relationships between the Taskforce and local NGOs in the North, which are more deeply rooted in the local communities where violations occur. The efforts were deemed successful and plans were made to expand this model of coverage to other locations in the country. Furthermore, the Taskforce coordinated with local Child Protection Committees, supported by external agencies, on data collection. The Taskforce carried out training for the Child Protection Committee members, developed a form they could use for reporting, and set up a hotline that allowed groups to report directly to the Taskforce on all six ‘grave violations’ (recruitment or use of children; killing and maiming; abduction; sexual violence; attacks on schools and hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access to children).
UN peacekeeping: Military battalions play a key role in the MRM for children in armed conflict. Battalions act as eyes and ears on the ground and may witness grave violations against children such as the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence, attacks on schools, abductions of children, killing and maiming of children, or military use of schools. When the military observes or receives reports of such incidents, they should inform the nearest child protection officer of the peacekeeping mission or a child protection agency such as UNICEF to deploy a trained monitor. However, the military does not interrogate children or investigate reported incidents.
RESOURCES, INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS, AND TOOLS
Education under Attack 2020, GCPEA, 2020.
Education under Attack, GCPEA’s flagship report, serves as the primary source for reporting on Sustainable Development Goal 4 thematic indicator 4.a.3 Number of attacks on students, personnel and institutions.