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Seek to Ensure the Continuation of Education During Armed Conflict

Seek to ensure the continuation of education during armed conflict, support the reestablishment of educational facilities and, where in a position to do so, provide and facilitate international cooperation and assistance to programs working to prevent or respond to attacks on education, including for the implementation of this Declaration

The closure of educational facilities, even for a limited period of time, can have a severe and long-lasting impact on learning and prevent students from returning to education. Continuing education in a safe place during armed conflict is essential to provide quality learning opportunities and a sense of normality, safety, and routine for children and young people experiencing armed conflict whilst building foundations for peace among future generations. Alternative delivery of education, such as building temporary structures and radio instruction programs, can help to ensure a rapid return to education.

Governments should guarantee safe access to education, including by ensuring that school grounds are free from weapons and explosive remnants of war, that routes to schools are safe, and that buildings are adequately reinforced and protected. Physical protection measures should be implemented in order to protect educational infrastructure from attack.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of recommended actions to be undertaken by governments and civil society and international organizations to implement the commitment to continue safe education during armed conflict, and re-establish educational facilities.

Governments

Develop contingency plans to reduce risks for educational facilities located in conflict-affected areas and to restore access to education or to provide quality alternative education for both male and female students;

Consider temporary alternative mechanisms for delivering education, such as alternative learning sites, shifts, summer schools or evening classes, and temporary learning spaces;

Consult with students, teachers, school administrators, and local communities, including women and girls, when determining measures to prevent attack and developing risk analyses, early warning systems, and comprehensive safety and security plans for attacks on education.

Civil Society and International Organizations

Advocate to the government to prioritize security of schools, including the urgent assessment of security risks for schools;

Expand funding for enhanced security measures, including emergency communications systems, especially for remote areas, systematic early warning systems, the development of comprehensive school-based safety and security plans, and programs to provide security training for educators and students;

Support government efforts to minimize disruption of learning, including by establishing safe spaces for girls that provide such non-formal and accelerated learning;

Expand measures to mitigate the harms caused by early marriage, including special programs to encourage continuation of education after marriage or, where that is not possible, economic empowerment programs and skills acquisition initiatives.

EXAMPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE

Alternative delivery of education

Central African Republic: In 2006, when entire communities in conflict-affected areas in northern Central African Republic fled to the bush to avoid fighting and attacks targeting villages, temporary “bush schools” were established by teachers, parents, and community members, with assistance from UNICEF and other donors, including the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DfID) and the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). Parents were offered short teacher training courses and served as teachers in the bush schools. They delivered lessons that attempted to parallel the national curriculum taught in government schools, teaching over 100,000 students in makeshift shelters or under trees.

Niger: It was reported that, in 2016, the Ministry of Education of Niger, together with UNICEF, relocated to safer locations 99 of 166 schools that had been closed due to insecurity. In the Diffa region, it was reported by UNOCHA that 74 schools had been relocated, but 30 schools remained closed at the time of reporting (January 2017). Alternative education is delivered via a radio program for children who cannot travel to school due to insecurity.

Nigeria: The American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola designed a Transactional Radio Instruction (TRI) program – the Technology Enhanced Learning for All (TELA) program – to enhance the educational outcomes for 22,000 vulnerable 247 children in Adamawa State. A core component of the program was using radio and mobile technologies to provide literacy and numeracy lessons to those who had no access to education due to the conflict.

Nigeria: In response to attacks on education in Nigeria’s northern states carried out by Boko Haram beginning in 2012, A Safe School Initiative (SSI) was launched in 2014 by Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, and a coalition of Nigerian business leaders. In 2015, in an attempt to maintain continuity of education for the children internally displaced by the conflict in these states, the SSI partners (DFID, UNICEF, and the Ministry of Education) began to develop several measures, including:

  • Transferring secondary school students from conflict zones to safer areas;
  • Holding sensitization meetings with host communities to identify capacity to accept displaced students;
  • Enrolling displaced students into normal school programs in host community schools;
  • Adapting schools to accommodate double shifts and appointing additional teachers;
  • Providing temporary schools in the camps for internally displaced;
  • Providing limited tents and learning materials to encourage enrolment and retention of students in internally displaced camps.

Somalia: Education Development Center’s (EDC) Somali Interactive Radio Instruction Program provided consistent broadcast of education programs on literacy, numeracy, life skills, health, and conflict prevention between 2005 and 2011. Broadcasts were transmitted three hours a day for up to five days a week on FM band to the common household radio, potentially reaching over 300,000 children. With the interactive radio instruction broadcasts, local teachers led classes. Simultaneously, teachers were trained in interactive teaching methods such as activities, stories, and songs that could be broadcast via radio. Following the program’s closure in 2011, EDC signed licensing agreements with the Ministries of Education for Somaliland, Puntland, South Central (Federal), and with other NGOs allowing them to continue to use the program and materials. According to the EDC, these Ministries continue to implement the program.

Syria: In northern Syria, temporary, makeshift schools staffed by both trained and untrained volunteer teachers were set up in more secure villages when parents in some areas had been afraid to send their children to their regular local schools.

Ukraine: Distance learning was offered to students in some government-controlled areas in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 during periods of intense fighting between government forces and pro-Russian insurgents. While some schools remained open for students still willing to attend, parents or guardians picked up assignments for students who stopped attending due to the risks involved. In areas where schools were temporarily closed, teachers utilized phone, email, and Skype to provide assignments and even lessons.

Early warning/alert systems

Central African Republic: In 2015, in some areas, community members, with the support of UNICEF, started an SMS alert system, EduTrac, that linked schools, communities, and local and national Ministries via text message. This allowed education personnel, especially in schools in remote communities, to communicate education data, such as enrollment and attendance, to regional and national education authorities. In addition, schools targeted for attack could utilize EduTrac to report attacks to the Ministries and police and receive support.

Niger: School directors in insecure areas of Niger have the telephone number of a local military contact and can make a direct appeal for action if a threat develops. Joint education and child protection activities have been developed, with awareness-raising among teachers on protection themes, such as the recruitment of children by armed non-state actors, family reunification, and risks linked to explosive devices. Alternative education is delivered via a radio program for children who cannot travel to school due to insecurity.

Codes of conduct

Nepal: A campaign to keep schools safe during the Maoist insurgency in Nepal gained momentum between 2000 and 2003, led in particular by UNICEF and World Education. Community facilitators, mostly women, were trained to get all parties to conflict to the table and negotiate codes of conduct to protect schools and enable the safe continuation of education. Stakeholders involved in these negotiations, in addition to the army and the Maoists, included local government and education officials, police, community-based organizations, school management committee representatives, and political parties. Civil society and local media representatives were also mobilized to act as monitors once codes of conduct were negotiated. Agreed codes of conduct were often displayed at the entrances of schools. UNICEF developed a sample code of conduct; many of the schools concerned by the campaign adopted all of the points in this sample code: Sample school code of conduct:

  • No weapons in the perimeter.
  • No political rallies or other activities which are not included in the teaching programme.
  • No arrest or abduction of any individual within the premises.
  • No harassment to children in and outside schools.
  • No interference with normal development of education activities. (Strikes, teacher harassment, attacks on schools.)
  • No use of school uniforms or premises in warfare.
  • Never consider school premises as possible target, no use of school as armed base, no use of school uniforms for camouflaging purposes.
  • We request all the parties; the security forces and the Maoists respect these rules to help us make this school a Zone of Peace.

The same strategy was adopted during a “Welcome to School” campaign in 2004 aiming to raise primary school enrollment of girls and marginalized groups. Community-based groups and teachers reached out to the Maoists to secure adherence or ensure non-interference with the campaign. The campaign covered 24,000 schools and resulted in the enrollment of over 500,000 additional children.”

Physical protective measures

Nigeria: Nigeria implements several measures to enhance school security, such as: constructing ditches around school perimeter fences; installing security lighting throughout school compounds; using sand bags to deter intruders; deploying armed military personnel to carry out vehicular and foot patrols; stationing security personnel at school gates; and setting up roadblocks on access roads.

Pakistan: Following the 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, the Government of the Punjab, Home Department, issued an advisory note requesting that all schools increase school security within 48 hours through specified measures. Among the list of 24 activities were several physical protection measures: 1) Constructing boundary walls around the school up to 8 feet in height; 2) Fencing the boundary wall with razor wire up to another 2 feet in height; 3) Using a single entry/exit gate generally and using a second gate only in exceptional circumstances or as an emergency exit; 4) Erecting concrete barriers at the entry/exit gate; 5)  Installing a walk-through gate and using metal detectors for physical search of the entrants and using bottom view mirrors for checking vehicles; and 6) Ensuring zigzag entry into premises by deploying concrete barriers.

RESOURCES, INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS, AND TOOLS

“The Safe Schools Declaration: A Framework For Action”, GCPEA, 2017.

English | Arabic | French | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian

“What Ministries Can Do to Protect Education from Attack and Military Use”, GCPEA, 2015.

English | French | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian

“What Schools Can Do to Protect Education from Attack and Military Use”, GCPEA, 2016.

English | French | Ukrainian

What can be done to better protect women and girls from attacks on education and military use of education institutions? GCPEA, 2018.
Implementing the Guidelines: A Toolkit to Guide Understanding and Implementation of the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use During Armed Conflict, GCPEA, 2017.

English | Arabic| French | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian

Technical Guide: What Teachers and School Administrators Can Do to Protect Education from Attack, GCPEA, 2017.
Guide to Implementing the Principles of State Responsibility to Protect Higher Education from Attack, GCPEA, 2016.
Protecting Education Personnel from Targeted Attack in Conflict-Affected Countries, GCPEA, 2014.

English | French

The Role of Communities in Protecting Education from Attack: Lessons Learned, GCPEA, 2014.

English | French

Minimum standards for child protection in humanitarian action. Child Protection Working Group, 2012.
Study on Field-based Programmatic Measures to Protect Education from Attack, GCPEA, 2011.
Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery, INEE, 2010.
Protecting Education from Attack – a State of the Art Review, UNESCO, 2010.
Disaster and Emergency Preparedness: Guidance for Schools, International Finance Corporation-The World Bank Group, undated.