The quality of teaching and learning is enhanced by an environment which is supportive and ensures the safety and health of all learners and teachers. Education systems should provide environments which are supportive, comfortable, safe and secure for all. Over the years, Education International has adopted several resolutions calling for advocacy and capacity building, including recently:
According to the Education under Attack 2014 report, students of all ages, teachers, academics, education unions, and education institutions were the target of intentional attacks for political, military, ideological, sectarian, ethnic, or religious reasons from 2009-2013.
Various initiatives protect the right to education and promote the continuation of education in situations of armed conflict. In 2014, the UN Security Council adopted its Resolution 2143 (which complements previous resolutions on children and armed conflict) guaranteeing the right to education of children in armed conflict. An important element in this resolution is the reference to the use of schools by armed forces. The UN resolution urges all parties to armed conflict to respect the civilian character of schools; urges States to ensure that attacks on schools are investigated and those responsible prosecuted; and calls upon the UN to intensify the reporting on the military use of schools.
Education International is promoting a wide ratification of an international Safe Schools Declarationwhich commits signatory states to protect education by improving monitoring and reporting of attacks, assisting victims, investigating attacks, prosecuting perpetrators, and introducing conflict sensitive approaches to education. These are some of the measures recommended in report of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) report Education under Attack 2014. The Declaration also commits states to endorse and use the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use During Armed Conflict.
Check here the list of countries that have already endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration.
In 2009 already, EI had adopted a Declaration ‘Schools Shall Be Safe Sanctuaries’, and engaged in advocacy initiatives to urge the international community to act to prevent violations of the right to education, to ensure the safety and security of learners, teachers, education personnel and academics everywhere and to strengthen international law and to end impunity.
Education is recognized as a fundamental right no matter what the circumstances, and so the utmost must be done to protect schools and children's right to education. The facts are different, the regions are diverse but the bottom line remains: increasingly in conflict countries and fragile States, teachers and students are putting their lives at risk simply by turning up for lessons – because rebels, armed forces and repressive regimes consider schools, universities, students and teachers as legitimate targets.
Over the years, EI consistently condemned the murders of children and teachers killed in education environments. EI also expressed deep concern over the respect of the right to education in safety in the Middle East.
From 2010, EI was a co-founder of GCPEA and particularly its work to encourage Governments to endorse the guidelines for protecting education during armed conflict.
Consistent with its policy that schools must be safe and secure to ensure the best possible situation for teaching and learning, and that education should advance human rights principles by promoting inclusiveness, diversity and understanding, Education International has supported major anti-bullying campaigners to create awareness in schools and communities about bullying and harassment prevention.
Specifically EI joined the initiative Stand 4 Change Day against bullying. On a specific day (6 May 2016), all school communities are invited to stand together for five minutes around noon (local time) to commit to create a safe learning environment for all students and education personnel. To participate, schools can register at https://stand4change.org/.
The Stand 4 Change initiative includes amongst others the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA).
The 2011 Global Monitoring Report which analyses trends towards the achievement of the Education for All goal,sexamined the devastating effects of armed conflict on education with 42% of out-of-school children living in conflict-affected countries.
The Report set out an agenda for protecting the right to education during conflict, strengthening provision for children, youth and adults, securing education provisions in humanitarian relief and rebuilding education systems in countries emerging from conflict. Because the GMR focuses on countries in armed conflict, it fails to report on the subtle attacks involving State actors targeting mostly the higher education sector but not only. EI members report that these attacks on mostly unionized teachers promoting academic freedom, more inclusive curriculum and language of instruction, or reporting corruption in education are insidious and also occur in non conflict situations.
The GMR also explores the role of inappropriate education policies in creating conditions for violent conflict. Drawing on experience from a range of countries, it sets out solutions to make education a force for peace, social cohesion and dignity.
EI has developed a reading guide to the Report, to help teacher unions use the GMR findings to protect education, teachers and children from attack.