Education Cannot Wait: A Call to Action by Global Leaders to Help Children in Crisis Countries
September 24, 2012
The following statement was endorsed by global leaders from governments, international organizations and civil society on September 24, 2012 at the United Nations General Assembly demanding attention to children's education in crisis countries. (Press Release in English and French)
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Education Cannot Wait: Protecting Children and Youth’s Right to a Quality Education in Humanitarian Emergencies and Conflict Situations
28 million of the world’s out of school children currently live in conflict-affected contexts, and enrollment rates in secondary schools are nearly one-third lower in conflict-affected countries compared with other developing countries. In addition, millions of children and youth have had their education disrupted by disasters from natural hazards. As a result, generations of young people are denied their rights to achieve their full potential and are trapped in situations of poverty, discrimination and conflict.
The UN General Assembly resolution on ‘the right to education in emergency situations’ emphasizes the obligation to secure education for all children regardless of context. The UN Secretary General’s Education Initiative, Education First, also upholds the right to education in conflict and humanitarian emergencies, reinforcing the GA resolution.
We are committed to protect and uphold the rights of all children and youth to an education in situations of conflict and emergencies, with particular emphasis on marginalized groups including refugees, internally displaced populations, girls, ethnic minorities and children and youth with disabilities. Access to quality education and learning – be it through formal schooling or alternative education opportunities – helps build resilience for children and youth and provides them with stability, structure, and hope for the future. Moreover, safe education spaces provide protection from exploitation and harm, especially for girls. The provision of equitable quality education and investment in teachers are important conditions for countries to recover from crisis; and children, youth, parents and communities in crisis situations consistently list education as a high priority.
To ensure the right to education in crisis-affected contexts, three key barriers need to be addressed:
A Call to Action:
The organizing partners for this event reaffirm their commitment to protect and uphold all children and youth’s right to a quality education in humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations, and call on all governments, donors, humanitarian agencies, and all concerned individuals and institutions to take coordinated action on the GA Resolution and Education First. These actions will include:
Increase levels of humanitarian aid to education and improve its delivery mechanisms
Keep education safe from attacks
Integrate emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in education sector plans and budgets
Children and youth do not forfeit their right to education in situations of conflict or when emergencies strike. This right must be upheld and protected at all times. We—all of us—are responsible.