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GMR 2011: Armed conflict stalls EFA progress

Armed conflict is destroying the hopes and aspirations of generations of children, youth and adults on a previously undocumented scale, reveals the 2011 edition of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR).

‘The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education’ report reveals that armed conflict is a major obstacle to achieving global EFA goals and the impact of armed conflicts on education represents a ‘hidden crisis’ that reinforces poverty, limits economic growth, and destabilises the development of countries. While acknowledging progress made so far – 52 million additional children of primary school age have enrolled into school between 1999 and 2008 – the GMR also notes that 67 million children remain out of school, while 796 million adults – two-thirds of them women – continue to be denied access to basic literacy skills. In addition to these startling figures, EI is also concerned about the teacher gap of 1.9 million professionals who are needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015, and the potentially negative impact of the emerging trend for governments in many countries to hire unqualified or under-qualified teachers The GMR reveals 42 per cent of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries. The scope and breadth of systematically violent attacks on schools, students and teachers, including sexual violence against girls and women, the recruitment of child-soldiers, continues unabated in far too many parts of the globe. The consequence is an increased fear among children about attending school, reluctance among parents to send their children to school, and a perennial fear among teachers about the repercussions of delivering their lessons. The GMR also paints a stark picture of the state of education in refugee camps. Education remains the most neglected area of an under-financed and unresponsive humanitarian aid system, while many countries refuse refugees access to public education or other basic services. Conversely, military expenditure is diverting aid resources from many donor countries. The GMR observes that 21 developing countries currently spend more on arms than on primary schools. If they cut military spending by 10 per cent, they would be able to provide 9.5 million more children with school places. The GMR also reveals that it would take just six days of rich countries’ total military expenditure to close the US$16 billion EFA external financing gap per year. The targeting of civilians by statutory and non-statutory parties involved in armed conflict, the mis-use of school facilities to instill intolerance and prejudice, or to spread endemic violence are clearly violations of international law and the ethos of education. EI insists that all schools, learners, teachers and support staff should be protected from violent conflict and attack, and supports the GMR recommendation that attacks on children and teachers should be documented, with perpetrators of heinous crimes prosecuted. EI also agrees that education has the potential to act as a powerful force for resolution and argues that schools should promote peace-building, national healing and tolerance. Commenting on the 2011 GMR, EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, said: “Schools must be safe sanctuaries or safe havens that guarantee the peace and security of all children, girls and boys, teachers and support staff and communities. “EI is urging every member organization to lobby their national government, the UN and the international community to ensure that schools, learners and teachers are protected from violent conflict and attack.” EI has joined UNESCO, UNICEF, Save the Children and other partners in the Global Coalition for Protecting Education from Attacks, to raise awareness of threats to education, to cultivate public support for safe education, and to strengthen existing monitoring and reporting systems.

Related Links (external)

2011 GMR website

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