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In Pictures: Primary Education in the Context of Armed Conflict

Updated: Dec 2, 2022


Children from war-torn countries have to face the far-reaching consequences of the armed conflict. From 500, 000 Yemeni children who have had to halt their education since the conflict escalated in 2015 to the 3.5 million children out of school in Iraq because of every one in five schools being out of use or the 2 million Syrian children, this situation leaves them to be vulnerable to several unpleasant instances. Girls are forced into early marriages; boys are forced into joining the armed groups at a young age and forced into child labor and it becomes difficult to escape from this cycle of poverty and unfulfilled potential. Primary school teachers are also forced to take up other jobs in order to sustain their families.


Every picture tells a story of the impact of conflict on the education of children in countries across the globe.




This photo from South-Sudan shows two former students sitting on the burned ruins of their school which had seven classrooms and five teachers but now has been attacked. The building has been rendered useless and students belonging to an underprivileged background are left with no other optioning their nearby vicinity to continue their primary education.


2.

This is a classroom in Sa'ad, Yemen and it shows the damage caused by the conflict. School buildings that educated many are now used for other purposes and according to a UNESCO report, more than 2,500 schools are out of use, with two-thirds damaged by attacks, 27% closed and 7% used for military purposes or as shelters for displaced people in Yemen.


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These photos from Syria show damaged school buildings which have been damaged or destroyed due to land and air shelling and a young boy, an ex-student, standing in front of his school, which was flattened by a bombardment in Ainjara village in rural Aleppo. Young children go through the mental trauma of seeing their schools being destroyed like this with no proper help available.


4.

This photo shows a young girl looking through a hole in the wall from damage from conflict in Ramadi, Iraq. Due to the armed conflict, school buildings have been deprived of proper facilities including electricity, study tables and chairs, staff members which is not conducive to a healthy learning environment.


5.

In Swat Pakistan, 172 schools were destroyed, damaged or burnt down by the Taliban militants during a period of two years. Other schools were shelled, blasted, demolished or ransacked, leaving 108 schools fully destroyed and 64 schools partially damaged. This action deprived 23,000 girls and 17,000 boys of primary education which is a huge chunk of population.



When schools are attacked during the armed conflict, actions are sometimes taken at an international but also individual levels to continue the process of education. One such example is of Syria’s Idlib province where two former teachers have transformed a cave into a school and almost 120 children take classes in two shifts but the question arises that while this model is a good way to educate children in the short-run but is it sustainable in the long-run? While many children wish to continue their education despite the on-going conflict, it is important to remember that not only students but teachers are going through a physically and mentally traumatic experience and when integrating them back to the system, they should be provided proper help including counseling facilities, training to deal with the ongoing war or the aftermath of it and the effort to make the classrooms a safe space for young children to recover and learn.

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