Making schools safe
Collaboration with governments and policy makers when they design policies is key to effectively protecting education from attacks and other emergencies. All members of society should take positive action to democratically contest those who destroy schools, use schools for military purposes and put the lives of students, teachers and educational personnel at risk.
For GCE members, this entails the responsibility to advocate for governments to endorse and enact the Safe Schools Declaration—an inter-governmental commitment to protecting education institutions and communities from the effects of armed conflict.
Throughout the EiE workshop, GCE members shared their experiences and identified ways to collaborate to better understand challenges tied to protecting education from attacks and promoting the right to education during conflict and crisis.
In Bangladesh, the right to education for Rohingya refugees has long been compromised by a lack of adequate learning spaces, teaching staff and psychosocial support, as well as language and cultural barriers. The Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) has been promoting Shikkha Songlap (Education Dialogue) with policy makers and affected community members to promote the right to education in emergencies. The coalition has formed community watch groups to amplify a grassroots voice, especially from excluded groups whose views have historically not been considered in policy spaces.
The Iraqi National Education Coalition continuously works with the country’s Ministry of Education to confront the spread of extremist ideology and to integrate all students within the education system without discrimination. Efforts include producing pedagogical materials on preventing violence and extremism and guidelines on providing psychological support to children and women affected by violence and displacement (Alhamooze et al., 2023).
In Nigeria, the Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative called attention to how the ongoing insurgency of Boko Haram and other security issues compromise education provision (Alausa-Issa, 2023). Their recent study with Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All identified how banditry, terrorism and kidnapping in the South have dramatically limited access to education.
The Yemeni Coalition for Education for All further emphasized how conflict not only compromises school infrastructure and children’s well-being, but also aggravates the teacher shortage and affects teacher well-being as well as their ability to teach.
During the GCE EiE workshop, the impact of climate change-related emergencies on education was also shared by the national coalitions of Haiti and Honduras. William Thélusmond, from l'organisation Regroupement Éducation Pour Tous (REPT) in Haiti described the disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew that destroyed schools, training centers and other educational facilities, leading to “environments not conducive to learning, […] limiting educational opportunities for learners and reducing the resolve of teachers.” Damaged buildings also compromised the safety of both students and school staff.
Foro Dakar Honduras further stressed the devastating impacts of consecutive hurricanes on education infrastructure. Rains in September and October 2022 destroyed at least 207 educational centers and created a massive disruption in children and youth’s learning.