In an increasingly interconnected world, education stands as a beacon of hope and progress. It’s the key to brighter futures, better opportunities, and the advancement of societies. However, a stark and alarming reality persists: education remains under threat in many parts of the world.
The Urgent Need to Protect Education
The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) sheds light on this harrowing issue. As we celebrated the International Day to Protect Education from Attack on September 9, 2023, it’s a stark reminder that the right to education is still denied to countless children and youth worldwide.
Between 2017 and 2022, over 14,500 attacks on educational facilities were recorded globally. These weren’t random acts of violence; they occurred in situations of armed conflict or insecurity. What’s even more heart-wrenching is that these attacks affected over 28,000 students, teachers, and academics, leaving behind a trail of injuries, death, and shattered dreams.
The impact of these violent attacks goes beyond the physical harm; it disrupts the very essence of learning. It erodes the safety and security that every child deserves in a nurturing environment. Education is not just about textbooks and classrooms; it’s about fostering peace, understanding, and the future. So, how are we highlighting the need of the hour?
A Week of Awareness and Action
The week-long commemoration of this year’s International Day is dedicated to galvanizing action. It’s a global effort co-organized by UNESCO, the State of Qatar, Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, UNICEF, and the United Nations Department of Global Communications. The main event, scheduled for September 13, 2023, at the UN Headquarters in New York, carries the theme “Justice for Victims.”
Global leaders, UN stakeholders, educators, and survivors of these attacks will converge to demand justice and accountability. They will amplify their voices to protect education, highlighting the urgency of safeguarding learning spaces.
UNESCO’s Unwavering Commitment
At the forefront of this battle is UNESCO. This organization plays a pivotal role in advocating for the protection of education from attacks. UNESCO gathers and disseminates data through the Track Attacks on Education (TRACE) Data Portal. They work with governments and stakeholders to develop policies that safeguard schools, students, and educators. In times of crisis, such as in Ukraine and South Sudan, UNESCO steps in to rebuild and empower communities through education. Is there a more peaceful way forward?
The Way Forward
Protecting education isn’t just a moral duty; it’s an investment in our collective future. It’s a statement that we refuse to let conflict and violence deprive children of their right to learn. It’s a commitment to nurturing a generation that will build a more peaceful world.
As we reflect on the International Day to Protect Education from Attack and its week-long commemoration, let’s remember that education is not just a privilege; it’s a fundamental right. It’s a light that can pierce through the darkest of times. And it’s up to us, as a global community, to shield that light and ensure it continues to shine brightly for all.