UNESCO invites Member States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration

30 October 2015

At the opening day of the 38th General Conference on 3 November H.R.H Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, will attend the Safe Schools Declaration event at UNESCO Headquarters (7th floor, Ségur Room, 1 pm to 3 pm).

The event, organized by the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Norway to UNESCO, the Permanent Delegation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of Argentina to UNESCO, raises awareness on the impact of conflict and violence on learning institutions and highlights the importance of ensuring lifelong learning opportunities for all during such times.

Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Education, Dr Qian Tang, will lead a high-level panel discussion which will include Julio Mercado, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN in Geneva; Federico Villegas Beltrán, Director General for Human Rights, Argentina; Tone Skogen, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, and Zama Coursen-Neff from The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and a high-level representative from Nigeria.

The event will provide an opportunity for all Member States to endorse the Safe School Declaration. The declaration, currently supported by 49 states, is a joint initiative developed through state consultations led by Norway and Argentina in Geneva throughout the first half of 2015.

The declaration provides governments with the opportunity to express broad political support for the protection and continuation of education in armed conflict. Furthermore, the declaration acts as an instrument for states to endorse and commit to in order to implement the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.

As the UN lead agency for Education, UNESCO (Education in Emergencies, Protecting Education from Attack) plays an active role in promoting education as a part of emergency response and long-term recovery. The importance of education is singled out as one of the key objectives of the newly-adopted Sustainable Development Goals. Protecting places of learning should therefore be of utmost importance worldwide.

By endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, UNESCO and its Member States will actively engage in addressing the impact of violence and conflict on education, which presents urgent humanitarian, developmental and wider social challenges worldwide:

•         Lives are lost, schools are closed down, children, students, teachers and academics are severely traumatized impacting on access to, and quality of, education. Girls are often targeted and as a result kept out of school. 

•         Schools, universities and other learning institutions, which should be places of safety and non-violence, are frequently attacked or put to military use.

A total of 28.5 million children, half of all out of school children worldwide, live in conflict-affected areas. As stated in the Safe Schools Declaration:  “…armed conflict continues to destroy not just school infrastructure, but the hopes and ambitions of a whole generation of children.”

The Declaration was endorsed by governments at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools convened by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 29 May 2015.

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Accreditation to the General Conference and its events, including Safe Schools, is required. Online registration is available at: https://en.unesco.org/general-conference/38th-gc-press-regis....

Journalists, please confirm your participation to Safe Schools: jh.sandstad.no@unesco-delegations.org

This is event is by invitation only.

For more information on the event, please contact the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Norway to UNESCO: dl.norway(a)unesco-delegations.org.