Resolution on education, peace and justice in conflict areas

published 25 July 2015 updated 31 March 2017

The 7th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Ottawa, Canada, from 21nd to 26th July 2015:

Recognises that:

1. Education is a human right and a public good. Schools and universities should be places where teaching and learning can take place in safe environments. These are fundamental positions to which EI subscribes. However it is far from the case that children and young people globally have access to education and that even where they do that schools are safe havens, rather they can become targets.

2. Students and educators in situations of armed conflict face violence every day. Schools and universities should be safe havens, where communities can work toward a better future. Instead, in many places, these institutions have become the targets of violent attacks for political, military, ideological, sectarian, ethnic, religious or criminal reasons.

3. There are examples of this in Nigeria where Boko Haram has targeted schools to abduct girls, in Pakistan where 9 gunmen affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban conducted a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in the north western city of Peshawar, in Mexico where 43 teaching students have been taken from their college by police and disappeared, in Afghanistan a headteacher has been persecuted by the Taliban for running a school for girls and in Gaza a large amount of education infrastructure has been severely damaged by bombing. Equally, in the West Bank children and students’ access to education is inhibited by the separation wall. These are not isolated examples.

4. A new United Nations human rights report seeking to analyse the problem of attacks against girls trying to access education found that schools in at least 70 different countries were attacked in the five years between 2009 and 2014, with many attacks specifically targeting girls, parents and teachers advocating for gender equality in education.

5. In conflict and post conflict areas and where populations live under occupation, the right to education is severely compromised if not totally absent. Where universities are targeted the capacity of a country to train teachers may be severely impaired.

6. Congress believes that there is a need for children in non-conflict areas to understand the experiences of their peers in conflict zones.

7. Congress notes the work of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) and particularly its work to encourage Governments to sign up to and endorse the draft international guidelines for protecting schools and universities from military use during armed conflict.

8. Congress instructs the Executive Board to:

a. Encourage affiliates to share relevant practices and resources on promoting peace, justice and conflict resolution;

b. Develop its own resources and identify classroom resources developed by EI affiliates, NGOs and partners on conflict resolution for classroom use to enable young people to campaign for peace and justice;

c. Urge affiliates to press their governments to adopt and endorse the international guidelines for protecting schools and universities from military use during armed conflict.