EAA calls for an end to attacks on education, shines light on young voices from conflict zones

Many schools have closed their doors due to the crisis. (Catholic School Ngongham) archived picture

Doha, (8 September 2020) – On the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack on 9 September 2020, Education Above All (EAA) Foundation and its global partners are calling for an end to attacks on education and for world leaders to safeguard this fundamental human right. The call comes amid the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education globally, particularly in conflict zones and fragile states.

This is not just another day on the UN calendar. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of EAA and UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, is calling today on world leaders to place the protection of education at the top of the global agenda.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of EAA and UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate: “Amid this global pandemic, it is vital to ensure that the diseases of armed conflict and illiteracy that were prevalent before do not spread further. That is why I am pleased that the General Assembly has recognised the significance of this urgent issue and established an International Day to Protect Education from Attack. Our challenge now, as an international community, is to translate our vision of education for all from political will into real change on the ground.

The Day could not come at a more critical time. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, children and young people living in the developing world faced almost daily assaults on their education – from air strikes, to travel and employment restrictions, to flooding and natural disasters. Now the pandemic places the fragile progress made across education under threat.

Through its #UniteToProtect Global Campaign to mark the UN Day, Education Above All is calling attention to young voices around the world, whose right to education is under attack. Voices like Ra’ed, who gave up his dream of becoming a civil engineer in Syria to look after his family but was given a chance at an education through a self-learning programme jointly delivered by EAA and UNICEF. And Charles, a young albino man from the Democratic Republic of Congo who fled with his family to Uganda when Charles’ father refused to sell his body parts to witch doctors. Continuing to face social stigma, Charles is determined to complete his education, so he can one day help protect the rights of other albino children like him.

This year marks the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack, following a unanimous resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in May. The Day calls attention to the plight of children affected by armed conflict and natural disaster in desperate need of educational support and puts attacks on education at the top of the international agenda. The Day was adopted by consensus after intense consultations led by the Delegation of the State of Qatar to the United Nations. Efforts to introduce the Day were spearheaded by HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser as part of a decades-long commitment to protecting education in conflict and insecurity and ensuring children in developing countries can realise their fundamental right to education. 

Her Highness has successfully advocated for the adoption by the UN of a resolution on ‘The right to education in emergency situations’, which affirms the right to education in crisis and conflict. Her work with Security Council members contributed to the formulation of Security Council Resolution 1998, which makes attacks on schools a “trigger violation” for the UN’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism for Children and Armed Conflict.

Together with the State of Qatar, Education Above All along with UNICEF and UNESCO will host a high-level virtual event to mark the Day and call for attacks on education to stop. The event will feature Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of EAA; António Guterres, UN Secretary-General; HE Prof Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly; HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar; HE Philippe Goffin, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Kingdom of Belgium; Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, David Beckham, Shakira and others.

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