Education under attack? Some new reports…

Education under attack? Some new reports found in the latest INEE newsletter:

Education under Attack 2010
This document, the second global report on the subject, was released this month. The first report from 2007 was seminal in drawing attention to this crime against international humanitarian and human rights law. The new report documents the trends of attacks since 2007, highlighting a tragic rise in violent attacks over the past few years:

  • The number of attacks on schools, students and staff nearly tripled in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008, up from 242 to 670;
  • In Iraq, 71 academics, two education officials and 37 students were killed in assassinations and targeted bombings between 2007 and 2009.
  • In Colombia, 90 teachers were murdered from 2006 to 2008.
  • In Pakistan, 356 schools were destroyed or damaged in one small region at the centre of the battle between the army and the Taliban;
  • In India, nearly 300 schools were reportedly blown up by Maoist rebels between 2006 and 2009;
  • In Georgia, 127 education institutions were destroyed or damaged in the conflict that took place in August 2008;
  • In Gaza, more than 300 kindergarten, school and university buildings were damaged, some of them severely, in the three weeks of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead spanning 2008-9.

The global report defines the scope of the issue, discusses challenges of data collection and analyses the motives behind the attacks. The report also documents some of the known short- and long-term impacts of attacks on affected communities and education systems as well as some of the prevention and protection measures that have been undertaken. Finally, the report examines the response to these attacks in terms of national and international monitoring and reporting, including combating legal impunity, and makes a series of recommendations for future action including, among others:

  • International support should be given to produce comprehensive guidelines on the application of humanitarian law to the protection of education buildings, students and personnel; and on the measures that states must take to protect education systems.
  • Recognizing the limited attention paid to attacks on schools by the current Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Children and Armed Conflict, the Security Council should demonstrate its commitment to the right to education by establishing attacks on schools as a trigger violation for UN Security Council listing of parties committing violations against children in armed conflict, requiring monitoring and reporting and time-bound action plans.
  • The international community, UN agencies and NGOs should devise strategies and campaigns to promote and fund inclusive, good-quality, learner-centred education in conflict-affected countries and establish respect for schools as sanctuaries or zones of peace.
  • Deeper research is needed into the extent and impact of attacks on education, particularly the medium and long-term impact on education systems, but also the impact on development, conflict and fragility;
  • UN agencies, NGOs and teacher unions should campaign for international solidarity with targeted groups and institutions and press for human rights instruments to be invoked to punish the perpetrators of attacks on education.
  • Education organizations should engage with the media to encourage coverage of attacks and their impact in order to improve accountability and response to attacks. This should include coverage of the long-term impact of attacks on education, education systems and efforts to achieve Education for All.

The study is dedicated to the memories of two colleagues – Dr Jackie Kirk and Ms. Perseveranda So who were both killed while working to ensure the right to education for children and youth affected by crisis.

Download the full study here.

Protecting Education from Attack: A State-of-the-Art Review
This accompanying publication presents key discussion points and 13 papers written by researchers and practitioners active in the field of protecting education from attack. The review also includes findings from an expert seminar held in Paris last year. The volume takes critical stock of knowledge on prevention and response with respect to both international law and interventions on the ground. Essays go into depth on particular elements of this phenomenon, including attacks on higher education communities and attacks against humanitarian aid workers. Several papers also deal with the debates surrounding the issue of applying and potentially strengthening the international legal provisions relating to these criminal acts.

Download the full review here.

A brochure detailing recommendations from the expert seminar is available here: ArabicEnglish;FrenchSpanish.
Other Resources
A number of resources from other organizations working on this issue are listed in the last listserv message, available here.
A short video of the author of Education Under Attack 2010, Brendan O’Malley, and the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, speaking at the launch of the publications in New York earlier this month is available here.

If you would like to become involved with the work UNESCO is helping to coordinate on this issue of Protecting Education from Attack, please email to be contacted as this important work moves forward.


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