20.05.2011 - Article
UNESCO Report: The hidden crisis - Armed conflict and education
The impact of armed conflicts on education is often ignored. This is a hidden crisis which increases poverty and slows development in the countries concerned. The Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2011, published by UNESCO, identifies four major shortcomings in the field of cooperation and proposes measures to combat these. A round table of experts, organised by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) on 20 May in Bern, presented the report and launched the debate in Switzerland.
It is estimated that 28 million children have been deprived ofeducation as a result of armed conflicts. In situations of violent conflict, they are exposed to rape and other sexual violence as well as to targeted attacks on their schools and teachers. This situation is threatening the achievement of the six EFA objectives by 2015, to which the international community committed itself in 2000, despite the undeniable progress that has been made overall.
According to the UNESCO report, armed conflicts increase inequalities as well as despair and resentment in the populations concerned. Furthermore they divert public funds away from education to military spending. They alsodivert resourcesaway from humanitarian aid - of which education accounts for just 2% of the total.
An International Commission on Rape
The report, entitled“The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education”, makes four recommendations for change. To make up for the present lack of protection it calls for the creation of an International Commission on Rape and Sexual violence, with assistance from the International Criminal Court. In view of the fact that education is neglected in the context of conflict-related emergencies, the report recommends an increase in the funds made available for humanitarian operations.
In so far as reconstruction is concerned, an effort must be made to do away with the distinction between humanitarian aid and long term aid, providing instead a larger volume of development aid through so-called “joint national funds”. Finally, the report suggests that not enough is being done to exploit the peace potential of education: schools should be seen as places in which to learn about tolerance, mutual respect and living in harmony with others.
Launching the debate in Switzerland
In collaboration with the Swiss Network for Education and International Cooperation (RECI) and the International Bureau of Education (IBE), the SDC organised a round table of experts on May 20 in Bern at which the UNESCO Report, which received financial support from the SDC, was presented and discussed. The round table was open to interested members of the public.