Education for all at risk unless war zones prioritised, warns UN

More than 13,000 attacks on education facilities in five years, UN says

Education meets war ... Yemeni students walk past the rubble of a destroyed school. EPA
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The international community’s goal of inclusive and equitable education for all by 2030 is in doubt unless more is done to support learning in conflict zones, a senior education figure has said.

Stefania Giannini, assistant director general at Unesco and a former Italian education minister, said she did not think the aim would be achieved "without prioritising education in conflict zones”.

“Why? Because we see an increasing number of situations around the world where schools, universities, places where education is being provided, [are] under threat, attacked directly. Learners and teachers under attack. The scale is massive,” she told a webinar hosted by the Bussola Institute in Brussels.

Under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the international community has sought to “ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education” by 2030.

Between 2015 and 2020, there were more than 13,000 attacks on educational facilities worldwide, the UN says.

Ms Giannini said attacks on education have a “symbolic value”.

“Destroying a school or a library is not simply an act of war but it also has the meaning of destroying or trying to destroy identity, culture.”

Claire Dalton, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in the UAE, said education was susceptible to conflict. “We’ve seen it’s often the first service to be disrupted and its often the last to be restored.”

When engaging with communities on the front line, education was often one of the top priorities for people, she said.

Updated: December 01, 2021, 11:03 AM