Protect teachers from wartime attacks

Attacks on teachers and other educators are a disturbingly common tactic of war and a serious threat to education, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said in a new study released yesterday, Protecting Education Personnel from Targeted Attack in Conflict-Affected Countries.

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Attacks on teachers and other educators are a disturbingly common tactic of war and a serious threat to education, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said in a new study released yesterday, Protecting Education Personnel from Targeted Attack in Conflict-Affected Countries. The report describes how teachers have been targeted around the world and documents various ways communities have tried to keep them safe.

“On Malala Day, we should also remember the courage of teachers like Malala’s father, who too often place their lives at risk simply by going to work and doing their job,” said Diya Nijhowne, GCPEA’s director. “Attacks on teachers strike at the very heart of a community, and more must be done to protect them.”

The new report draws from interviews with global practitioners, documents from international and local organizations, and field research in the Philippines. It highlights the devastating impact of violence against educators on the education system. Attacks can deplete the teaching force, as teachers and professors are intimidated, injured, killed, or forced to flee. In the longer term, they can exacerbate teacher shortages, disrupt education and employment cycles, and impact a country’s development.

Over the last five years, teachers and other education staff have been targeted for assassination, killed, injured, tortured, detained, extorted, and harassed in areas of conflict and instability in at least 23 countries, according to Education under Attack 2014. In Nigeria, where the militant group Boko Haram abducted almost 300 schoolgirls exactly three months ago, the President of the National Union of Teachers reported that the group had also killed 171 teachers since 2009.

“Teachers play a crucial role in enlightening and inspiring the next generation of leaders like Malala,” said Nijhowne. “For the sake of their children, their societies, and their future, it is imperative that States galvanize efforts and resources to keep teachers safe.”

Available in English and French, the 50-page report documents the extent of attacks on teachers, the motives behind these attacks, and the strategies used to protect them. It also offers guidance to practitioners and policymakers on what they can do to help improve teachers’ security.

The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) is a unique coalition of international organizations including CARA (Council for Assisting Refugee Academics), Human Rights Watch, the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict, Save the Children International, the Scholars at Risk Network, UNHCR, and UNICEF.

TransConflict is an affiliated organization of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack.

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