The Director of Communications and the Head of Advocacy Department at the Qatari Education Above All Foundation – Sheikh Mubarak bin Nasser Al Thani – expressed his optimism regarding the recommendations of the foundation’s conference, which was held with the participation of high-ranking UN and government figures.
He reviewed some worrying numbers regarding targeting schools, threatening students’ lives, and employing educational facilities in military actions, as he warned of the widening circle of those attacks and their out of control, expressing optimism about the efforts made by international organizations and civil society components in order to strengthen the educational system in a number of countries of the world .
Sheikh Mubarak bin Nasser called on law enforcement agencies to make more efforts to prosecute the perpetrators and prevent their impunity, and make this a priority for governments and international judicial bodies.
The following is the text of the interview:
The Education Above All Foundation organized a conference which coincided with the declaration of the United Nations on the ninth of September of each year, as an International Day for the Protection of Education, in response to a proposal submitted by Qatar, how did this come about?
On 28 May, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution declaring September 9 as the International Day for the Protection of Education from Attacks, a decision called for by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Education Above All Foundation and a member of the Defenders of the Sustainable Development Goals of Nations On behalf of the State of Qatar, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.
From this standpoint, a conference organized by the Education Above All Foundation was held to discuss issues related to education and ways to protect it from grave violations, and to suggest ways to activate initiatives and partnerships to achieve the best results.
For reference, Qatar’s proposal was based on what the Global Alliance for the Protection of Education relied on in a report entitled “Education Under Attack 2020, which monitored and diagnosed the areas of danger to the education system in a number of regions around the world, and the risks that threaten future generations, as it concluded That between 2015 and 2019, more than two-thirds of attacks on education focused, of which 7,300 were direct attacks on schools.
The report also documented the occurrence of more than 11,000 attacks on education, and the use of educational facilities for military purposes, which affected students and education workers, and the accompanying fears due to the continuous expansion of the circle of attacks in new geographical areas.
Is dedicating an international day to end the phenomenon of targeting education sufficient to shed light on the violations to which one of the most important rights protected by human rights covenants and charters is exposed?
There is no doubt that it is not enough alone, but we believe that the allocation of this World Day is a unique annual opportunity to mobilize global awareness and call to protect education from violations, and to ensure that those responsible for persistent and deliberate attacks on education are held accountable. , Which aims to ensure that everyone has access to a quality education.
How has the educational system, with its material and human components, exposed to attacks and armed violence?
The Education Under Attack 2020 report stated that between 2015 and 2019, students, teachers, and staff of schools and educational institutions suffered various forms of violence in at least 92 countries. The report also provided a snapshot of 37 countries that suffered at least 10 attacks on education or use. Military for schools.
The report tracks 5 types of attacks on education and the military use of educational facilities, namely, targeting schools, attacks on students, teachers, and education personnel, military use of schools and universities, child recruitment in or on the way to or from school, sexual violence, and attacks on higher education.
How do you evaluate the involvement of the United Nations bodies and the rest of the partners to the success of the vision proposed by Her Highness Sheikha Moza?
We are betting on the effective roles of the United Nations Educational, Education and Cultural Organization “UNESCO” and the United Nations Children’s Fund “UNICEF”, to commemorate the anniversary of this day, in accordance with the mandate of the United Nations General Assembly, proposed by the State of Qatar and co-sponsored by 62 countries, with the support of the Fund Qatar Development and the “Save Our Future Now” campaign, and the involvement of many international and local organizations in achieving the higher goals that it intends to achieve.
What mechanisms can be adopted to stop attacks on educational institutions and ways to implement them?
We firmly believe that investigating attacks on educational facilities and structures, and prosecuting perpetrators and holding them accountable for any crimes targeting the field of education, is one of the main priorities of the International Criminal Court, as Article 8 of its Basic Law defines war crime as “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion or Education, art, science, or charitable purposes. “
In which regions of the world are these attacks concentrated, and who are the parties responsible for them?
The Education Under Attack 2020 report describes violence and threats of violence against students, teachers, and other education personnel in 37 countries, which are areas suffering from poverty, insecurity and armed conflict, and those responsible for them are armed, either affiliated with some governments or within groups and gangs.
Are there accurate statistics on the scale of attacks on schools and teachers around the world? How do you read those numbers?
We see it as worrying numbers, as 37 countries can be classified as having suffered at least 10 attacks on education or the military use of educational facilities, based on the Program for Protecting the Right to Education in Conditions of Armed Conflict and Insecurity, affiliated to the Education Above All Foundation, and is a member of The Steering Committee of the Global Alliance to Protect Education from Attack, which publishes the biannual “Education Under Attack” report, which also highlights the challenges the world faces today.
Doesn’t the need for more mobilization of international community organizations seem urgent, with the aim of preventing schools from being used as fortresses in conflict areas?
This is necessary today, because the use of educational facilities by parties to armed conflict exposes students and education personnel to harm and deprives large numbers of students and children of their right to education. The guiding principles of the Global Alliance for the Protection of Education from Attacks and Military Use during Armed Conflicts have been defined 6 Recommendations to prevent this use of educational facilities, and it urges all parties to the armed conflict to refrain from actions that hinder children’s access to education, and encourages Member States to take concrete measures in this regard.
To what extent are you optimistic about achieving the goals of protecting education?
The Steering Committee of the Global Alliance to Protect Education from Attacks has reported that 104 countries have actually signed the Safe Schools Declaration, and this can bring positive changes on the ground, and there has been some tangible improvement in several regions, especially after the International Criminal Court highlighted the severity of the attacks. Against education, and its declaration that investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators is a major priority for it.
Another worrying aspect about the disruption of education in a number of countries in the world in light of the Corona pandemic, to what extent is this a reason for calling for more exceptional measures?
The outbreak of the (Covid-19) pandemic has led to a billion learners leaving schools, and the closure of schools in 184 countries, and by the end of 2020, the epidemic may force at least 9.7 million children to leave education forever, according to a report issued by Save the Children Organization, and for this we see intensified efforts and elaboration of action plans more responsive to such repercussions.