#UN; #InternationalDaytoProtectEducationfromAttack; #Covid19
UN, Sep 9 (Canadian-Media): On the observance of the first 'International Day to protect education from Attack' attention is being drawn to the plight of more than 75 million 3-to-18-year-olds living in 35 crisis-affected countries and to their urgent need of educational support and over the effects of continued violence on these children and their ability to access education, UN reports said.
Ehsanullah at his school in Zheray, a district in the southern province of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The school, which once served around 1,300 students now has less than 400 pupils, and some classrooms remain unusable. Image credit: UNICEF/UN0309055/Kocic
These consequences require special attention beyond the needs of learners whose establishments were temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In proclaiming the International Day to Protect Education from Attack to be observed for the first time in 2020, the UN is sending a clear message regarding the importance of safeguarding schools as places of protection and safety for students and educators and the need to keep education at the top of the public agenda. This remains a priority while governments continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to school closures for more than 90% of the world’s student population.
"As the world fights to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth in conflict zones remain among the most vulnerable to its devastating impact. We must ensure our children have a safe and secure environment in which to learn the knowledge and skills they need for the future,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Education is a fundamental human right and an essential driver for peace and development, yet armed attacks targeting teachers, students and education facilities are on the rise, with some 11,000 incidents reported between 2015 and 2019, the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday.
António Guterres shared the startling figure in an address to mark the first observance of the International Day to Protect Education from Attack.
“In addition to depriving millions of vulnerable learners from accessing education, this violence has serious adverse effects, including increased drop-out rates, prolonged educational disruption, child recruitment into armed groups, early pregnancy and sexual violence”, he stated, adding “These attacks simply must not continue.”
‘Military occupation’ of the playground The President of the UN General Assembly outlined the magnitude of the problem, noting that most incidents involve direct attacks on schools, including arson, ground and airstrikes, raids, looting and use of explosive devices.
“We are witnessing the military occupation of schools which causes the campus to lose civilian status, thus facing threats of attack as a lawful military target”, said Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.
“Furthermore, proximity to weapon-bearers places students at risk of forced recruitment, sexual violence, and abduction.”
Though he was able to complete his studies, Faisal Nor Ali, a social worker in Somalia, experienced first-hand the devastation caused by an attack on a school facility.
“I have witnessed fellow students jump out of school buildings in fear of attacks and violence”, he said. “We must commit to making classrooms a safe space where learners can flourish and look to a bright future.”
Education for all The UN Secretary-General underlined that governments must ensure that everyone can continue to learn, even during times of conflict.
While more than 100 countries have endorsed a Safe Schools Declaration, Mr. Guterres insisted that more action is needed.
“I urge all United Nations Member States to ensure the provision of education for all, even in times of conflict, and particularly for the most vulnerable, such as refugees and displaced persons”, he stated.
Furthermore, he said education must also be a force to prevent attacks. To that end, the UN has been using education as a tool to counter violent extremism.
“We are helping young people rise above radical messages to build more peaceful societies,” Mr. Guterres continued. “By giving them more autonomy and raising awareness of human rights, we are building the foundations of durable peace.”
Additionally, governments must also work to improve knowledge about attacks on education through enhanced monitoring, reporting and investigation so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.
Learning from the pandemic With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing inequalities and injustices, the UN chief emphasized that recovery must prove to be an opportunity to build a better world.
“The pandemic has shed an important light on the fault lines running through our societies. One of these is unequal access to education”, he said.
“As we work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the coming decade, we must ensure no one is left behind. For that, we need quality education for all, and safe places for students to learn.”
UNEP, Sep 3 (Canadian-Media): What if we could see the invisible air pollution that kills more than 7 million people each year? Would it make us act?
On 7 September 2020, for the first time ever, the world will join together to mark the UN's International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. The theme for 2020 is "Clean Air for All".
Air pollution is now the greatest environmental threat to health, but it is preventable. We have solutions and technology. To improve our air quality we need everyone on board –from individuals to private companies to governments.
Air pollution doesn’t have to be a part of our collective future. Cleaner air will make us healthier, protect nature and help achieve global climate change goals.
What are you doing to clear the air?
Tell us: #CleanAirForAll