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Dangerous Schools

“Sudan school becomes the target of Aerial attack”

“More than 1000 schools have been bombed since the war began in Ukraine…”

“More than 200 schools in conflict zones closed in Libya”

Why are schools targeted during a war? Schools are used as military bases due to their somewhat “protective” status.

Schools and children are protected under laws of war and international human rights law. As outlined in the 1949 Geneva Convention, “The Occupying Power shall facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of the children.” Similarly in 2015, the UN Security Council passed resolution-225 which addresses government duties to protect children during wartime.

The international law restricts military use of schools however, it does not completely outlaw the practice. Hence, we have seen multiple examples of schools being used by both the rebels and the state security forces. Opposition groups in particular are known to target schools because these very institutes promote things they oppose like the government or the right to girl's education. This is particularly true for Somalia, where schools were bombed by Al-Shabab, and students either were killed or were forced to flee. In 2012, only 12% of Somalian boys and 8% of girls were enrolled in secondary schools. One of the lowest enrollment rates in the world. Al-Shabab even used students as “human shields.” Those left were recruited into the group. In 2010 alone Al-Shabab recruited 2000 child soldiers.

Is the situation better for the developed world? Unfortunately, no. The conflict in Ukraine led to the closure of 150 schools in 2014. International laws were clearly not effective in keeping schools and children safe during wartime. So, in 2015 more than 50 countries endorsed the “Safe School Declaration.” The declaration strongly discourages the military from occupying and damaging a functioning school or actions that would put the school in a harmed way. If we don't see more countries joining this declaration and taking initiatives we might see more casualties and damage to education. What do you think the way forward is?

Do you know which countries did not support this declaration? USA, Canada, Colombia, UK… I know what you are thinking and still nobody saw it coming. The world is seeing it today because the ones who should have, didn't see it earlier.

Read the Safe School Declaration country list here.

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