In a global context where humanitarian crisis get longer with time at the same time that new armed conflicts arise, refugeed and displaced people numbers increase and are higher than those there used to be after the Second World War. The Jesuit Refugee Service and other jesuit cooperation organizations such as the ones joining the Xavier Net, are engaged in the promotion of the Right to Education in the most vulnerable situations not only for children but also for youngsters and adults.
In addition to 25 million internal refugee and displaced children, there are 230 million children who live in countries and zones afected by armed conflicts currently. In fact, as UNESCO points out, out of the 58 million children of the world out of primary school, half of them live in countries facing armed conflicts. Of the total of children refuegeed or internally displaced, more than 36 per cent have no access to school. This percentage reaches the 87 in arabic countries, as consequence of the harsh results of the sirian conflict. From 4,8 million sirian children in schooling age, aproximately 2,2 million are out of school inside their home country. Two thirds of sirian refugees (about 500.000 children) have neither access to school. In the last decade, there has been a big increase of violence against schools, students and teachers, above all in Afganistan, Iraq, Nigeria and palestinian territories, Siria and South Sudan as The Global Coalition to protect Education from Attacks claims. The truth is that in many countries, going to school has become a high risk activity in which children fear for their lives. The case of Malala Yusafzai, the young activist for Paquistan who was shot by the taliban coming back from school is not, unfortunately, an isolated case.
It is obvious that armed conflicts have a very negative impact in lives and education of children. In the short term, because in addition to the terrible cost in human lives, they cause fear, insecurity, teachers and students absenteeism, lack of continuity in classes and loss or destruction of materials and infraesctructures. In the long term, because they damage the educative system of the country and because whole generations have the risk of not accessing to quality education.
On the other side, the right to education open doors to other rights. It promotes learning opportunities and recreation, it offers rutine, stability and sets the sight in the future. This becomes specially important in situations where daily survival stands on the way of looking up further than present time. In violent or conflict situations, education can urge on the existing hostilities or, on the contrary, it can play a decissive role in the promotion of peace culture, promoting tolerance, inclussion, respect values.
Education in emergencies and conflicts, however, is the Cinderella of the aid, getting only 2 per cent of the humanitarian emborsement. Education doesn’t seem as important as settlement, food or sanitary means tat are considered to “save lives”. It is urgent to revert this situation since, as Gordon Brown, special relator of United Nations for the right to education acknowledged “You can live 40 days without food, 8 days without water and 8 minutes without air, but you cannot live one second without hope. Education gives hope of a better future even in the most adverse situations.”
That is why in 2015, a year where the new educative and development agendas will be set, we must redouble efforts to make education a priority and the right to quality education also in conflict and emergency situations be guaranteed for every child.
This post is t e translation of an extract from the article written by Valeria Méndez de Vigo from the jesuit NGO Entreculturas and published under the title “El impacto de los conflictos en la educación de niños y niñas.” The complete article in Spanish: http://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-impacto-conflictos-educacion-ninos-ninas-20150616105933.html