Attacks on education are any intentional threat or use of force—carried out for political, military, ideological, sectarian, ethnic, religious, or criminal reasons—against students, educators, and education institutions.
Field Programs and Policies
Field-based practitioners, communities, and government education actors in a number of affected countries have developed a range of programs and policies to reduce or prevent attacks on teachers, students, and education institutions. Field-based responses to attacks on education aim to protect civilian lives, limit the damage to school buildings and the disruption to education services, prevent future attacks of this nature, and protect the right to education for all.
The aim of this initiative is to contribute to establishing an evidence base that shows that certain programs and policies are effective in protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack. The evidence can then be used to advocate with development partners and practitioners for increased support and implementation of these measures.
Measures employed by affected countries include:
- Physical protection, including unarmed or armed school guards, the reinforcement of school infrastructure, student or teacher housing, alternative transportation or escorts, avoidance of high risk routes to school, arming of teachers, or rapid response plans
- Community involvement in protection, including community-based protection committees, school-based protection committees, school management committees, community involvement in peace building, or involvement of religious leaders
- Alternative delivery of education, including community-based schools, temporary schools, schooling for refugees, mobile training teams, summer sessions, or distance learning
- Negotiations with stakeholders to make schools conflict-free zones
- Restricting military and political use of schools
- Conflict-sensitive reform at the education systems level, including policy to address the causes of conflict such as improving equitable access to education and reforming the curriculum to respond to the learning needs of marginalized groups and promote peace
- Advocacy initiatives, including use of media, human rights/child rights training and awareness, coalition building, direct actions, public hearings, youth mobilization
- Monitoring and reporting attacks on education for early warning, rapid response, advocacy, and accountability
GCPEA has undertaken a multi-year initiative to:
- Build an evidence base that demonstrates the policies and programs that are effective in protecting education from attack
- Identify areas for research and methods of evaluation to contribute to effective practice
- Identify good practices and make recommendations for protecting education at the field level
In 2014, GCPEA released the following papers examining programs and policies that can help protect education from attack:
- Community involvement in protecting education from attack: There is a strong sense that the diverse ways of involving communities themselves in ensuring the safety of their students, teachers, and schools are among the most effective methods of protection. However, relatively little research or evaluation indicates how, why, and when these practices most successfully prevent, mitigate, or respond to attacks on education. This briefing paper assesses a number of good practices for community involvement in the protection of education.
- Protection of teachers from attack: Educators have a vital role to play in protecting classrooms, students and other teachers. Released on Malala Day - July 14, 2014 - this briefing paper reviews and examines good practices in protecting teachers, as well as teachers’ contributions to protecting education.
These papers build on previous work carried out by GCPEA, including a Knowledge Roundtable in Thailand in November 2011 attended by teams of education sector practitioners, human rights activists, ministry of education officials, NGO representatives and UN agency staff, with participants from 15 countries. In addition to the information shared among participants, GCPEA published a report of the meeting proceedings, produced a Study on Field-based Programmatic Measures to Protect Education from Attack that documented nine types of measures in 20 countries, and developed priorities for a research agenda on programmatic measures.
- Protecting Education Personnel from Targeted Attack in Conflict-Affected Countries, July 2014
- Protéger le personnel de l’éducation contre des attaques ciblées dans les pays touchés par un conflit, juillet 2014
- The Role of Communities in Protecting Education from Attack, Lessons Learned, June 2014
- Le rôle des communautés dans la protection de l’éducation contre les attaques : Leçons apprises, juin 2014
- Education Under Attack 2014: Thematic Essay on the role of communities in protecting education, February 2014
- Study on Field-based Programmatic Measures to Protect Education from Attack, 2011
Attacks on education violate the right to education and other internationally protected human rights applicable at all times.