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Education under attack: A global study on targeted political and military violence against education staff, students, teachers, union and government officials, and institutions

Brendan O'Malley


27 April 2007

SARPN acknowledges UNESCO as the source of this document:
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In the wake of the assassination of Safia Ama Jan in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Koпchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, announced that UNESCO would conduct a study into violence directed against educational personnel worldwide and into what can be done to improve safety and security. The objective of this report is to raise awareness and understanding of the extent to which those involved in education, whether students, teaching staff, trade unionists, administrators or officials, are facing violent attacks, and what can and should be done about the problem.

To differentiate this study from other examinations of violence affecting educational personnel, institutions and premises, the following terms of reference have been set. This study focuses on targeted violent attacks, carried out for political, military, ideological, sectarian, ethnic or religious reasons, against students, teachers, academics, education trade unionists, education officials and all those who work in or for education institutions such as schools, colleges and universities. It also includes attacks on educational buildings, such as the firebombing of schools.

For the purpose of this study, the term ‘violent attacks’ refer to any injury or damage by use of force, such as killing, torture, injury, abduction, illegal incarceration, kidnapping, setting of landmines around or approaching educational buildings, assault with any kind of weapon, from knives to bombs or military missiles and burnings when carried out for the reasons given above.

It includes forced recruitment of child soldiers, voluntary recruitment of child soldiers under the age of 15, and rape where it is part of a political, military and/or sectarian attack. It also includes threats of any of the above.

It includes looting, seizure, occupation, the closure or demolition of educational property by force, for instance the use of schools as a military base, and prevention of attendance at school by armed or military groups.

It includes the closure of schools by the state as well as rebel forces, or occupying troops, or any armed ethnic, military, political, religious or sectarian group.

The common thread is that these are incidents involving the deliberate use of force in ways that disrupt and deter the provision of and access to education.

The terms do not include general daily violence in schools, for instance between students or between students and teachers. Nor do they include collateral damage where, for example, teachers are killed or schools damaged accidentally by general military violence rather than attacks deliberately targeted against them.

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