International Day to Protect Education from Attack: denial of education anywhere is a weapon of destruction everywhere

Over the years education has made significant impacts on the lives of people in a lot of countries worldwide. We celebrate all people involved in any form of education on this day whether formal or informal not forgetting victims of several attacks on education all over the world.  

Attacks on education continue unabated as inevitable situations occur worldwide through conflicts and wars which come along with consequences including, killings, bombings, burning of schools and universities, maiming, raping, abductions, and possible curfews which are accompanied with underdevelopment and widespread of violence and other socio-economic challenges. Practically looking at the impact of COVID19 and the Ebola crisis on education in some African countries there is no doubt that pandemic situations are attacks on education.  

In some specific parts of the world, wars and conflicts keep affecting the futures of an entire generation. The current pandemic situation aggravates already existing challenges in the education sector of many underdeveloped countries thereby affecting millions of children of school-going age including higher-level education.

Without access to education, most children who find themselves in conflict zones and environments tagged as hotspots of pandemics are likely to grow up without the required skills and expertise to contribute to the economy of their countries in the future because they have been denied.  

Denial of education as a weapon of destruction  

Most often schools are closed down during conflicts, wars, and pandemic situations firstly as a remedy to safeguard civilians from insurgents’ attacks and abuses and secondly to protect their health even though there are instances where others are brutally victimized or abducted without noticing the level of intellectual starvation on people involved in any form of education.  

Between 2015 and 2019 the numbers of attacks have kept increasing exponentially, according to the UNICEF Innocenti insight 2020, 45% of primary schools were destroyed during the Mozambique conflict, 66% of Rwandan teachers fled or were killed during conflicts, schools were closed in Israel for Palestinian children in “Occupied Territories” after the “Intifada” and in some parts of Africa and the Middle-East there were a lot of children who participate voluntarily or forcibly in armed conflicts.  

In Nigeria, the missing 112 out of a total of 276 abducted girls have still not been found since 2014, over thousand university staff and students have been threatened, abducted, or killed, while in Burkina Faso and Niger attacks on education have increased exponentially leading to the closure of more than 2000 schools.  

Currently, in Ghana and other countries in West Africa which are more stable with minimal or no attacks through conflicts or wars, the attack on education is likely to be attributed to the existing pandemic which has denied a lot of people from getting access to education. Informal education has also been hugely affected as a result of attacks on education in general. 

Buildings and educational infrastructure are been destroyed, children of school-going age are been recruited by armed groups, girls are impregnated from rape, early marriages and the stigma of sexual violence has increased, child labor, domestic violence, and discrimination against females in education have increased.  

The way forward 

It is noted that most often schools are used for military purposes in most countries where wars and conflicts are rampant. While it is obvious that people involved in any form of education cannot be safeguarded in pandemic situations and conflict or war zones but there is the need to safeguard education in one way or the other.  

In conflict and war dominated zones, safe places should be provided for people in education so that they will be protected from threats and attacks in the future. In regions of continued violence, education should be evenly distributed void of discrimination against any tribe or ethnicity.

Manipulation of history for any purpose should be avoided to prevent the normalization of systematic violence. In places of internal (ethnic and tribal) conflicts education should be a means to promote self-worth and condemn blaming, stereotyping, segregated education, inequality, low self-esteem, and scapegoating to reassure people of their responsibility for each other.  

Information technology should be effectively utilized in underdeveloped countries that suffer the most during the pandemic crisis. Virtual learning platforms should be harnessed and be used as a lifesaver of any form of education while Governments facilitate learning at home by providing learning materials such as textbooks to the necessary areas in the absence of face-to-face learning.  

What the world needs

As we celebrate today let’s remember that the world needs great mindsets and skillset to disarm history, desegregated the mindset of people, provide more education that promotes peace, cultivate inclusive citizenship, promote linguistic and ethnic tolerance to prevent wars and conflicts, and advancement of science and technology in underdeveloped locations facing serious pandemic crisis. Nations need to fight against attacks on education to promote peace and stability in all sectors, embody fundamental human rights and bring people involved in these attacks to justice. 

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