We Must Ensure Children, Young People Living through Conflict Receive Educational Support, Secretary-General Tells Commemorative Session Marking International Day

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the General Assembly’s commemorative session on the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, in New York today:

Around the world, children’s education is being snatched away by threats, violence and attacks.  From direct assaults on places of learning.  To schools and universities being used for military purposes.  To students and educators abducted, arbitrarily arrested, injured, killed — and even recruited to the fighting.

A new report from the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack found there were more than 3,000 reported attacks on education last year — a 17 per cent increase from the previous year.  And more than 6,700 students and educators were killed, injured, abducted or arrested — a 20 per cent increase.

Together, we must work to end attacks on education.  That begins with all countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration which details concrete measures and practices to ensure that places of learning — and the people inside them — are protected at all times during armed conflict.  It also commits countries to boost data collection, investigate and prosecute war crimes involving education and support victims.

The world must also dramatically step up investment and support for the 224 million children and young people in urgent need of education support because of crises like armed conflict and the 72 million who are out-of-school altogether.

We cannot always stop conflicts.  But we can ensure that the children and young people living through these crises receive the educational support they need.  We can take steps to ensure they are supported by a well-trained workforce of teachers.  And we can invest in digital learning tools — and universal internet access — to ensure that education can continue, even in the midst of crisis.

I call on countries to boost long-term official development assistance in support of stronger education systems and commit to reaching the target of 4 per cent of all global humanitarian funding for education.  And I urge continued support of dedicated global organizations and coalitions working to provide education in the midst of conflict.

Throughout, let’s live up to the commitments made at last year’s Transforming Education Summit to help education systems prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from crises.

Education represents a pathway to a better future for every person, and a more peaceful world.  We can — and must — protect education from attack.

For information media. Not an official record.