Education in Conflict Areas

Published Apr 2, 2019
Image credit: USAID

The world has become a less safe place in the last 10 years. With a rising number of conflicts around the globe during these 10 years there is a tremendous effect on the living conditions of millions of people living in these areas. One way to define a conflict affected country is to stress the armed conflict, widespread violence and other risks of harming people living in this area. The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (data collection project on organized violence from the Uppsala University in Sweden) defines every conflict, which has led to more than 1000 of death cases in one calendar year, as a war. Taking this into consideration, the world is facing 9 wars, from which 3 are considered as major wars since they have taken more than 10 000 lives during one year.

But the list of conflict areas goes on given the fact that there are many other countries facing conflicts that haven’t taken so many lives in one year, but are still drastically damaging the countries’ development (35 according to Wikipedia). So how is this devastating fact affecting the lives of those living in this area and more precisely, how are the children and their education surviving under these circumstances? According to the World Bank, 2 billion people in 2016 were living in areas which are in a way affected by conditions of fragility, conflicts or violence. There are approximately 357 million children living in areas where conflicts and wars are widespread, leading to the fact that one in six children live in conflict zones, as reported by The Save the Children Fund, in 2018.

Just a year before that UNESCO reported that approximately 27 million children living in conflict and war zones are out of school and are denied their human right to education. Conflict areas are suffering from immense education problems in different forms. A high range of death and displacement of teachers and students, demolition and damage caused on schools are not only a destruction of educational infrastructures and systems but also a destruction of the future of a whole generation of children. One way the war is directly attacking education is by demolishing and targeting schools during an armed conflict. In a report done by Save the Children, it has been stated that since the beginning of the Syria conflict, 3900 schools have been destroyed, damaged or are being occupied for non-educational purposes. While armed conflicts are demolishing the existing school facilities, they are also standing in the way of new ones getting open. All of this is forcing teachers and students to give up on education and attending class because not only that they are at risk of being attacked during class, the travel to school itself is a huge threat to children’s safety.

Young girls are especially victimized due to the wide-spread violence against female students and precisely girls living in such areas are the first ones to be forced to stop their education. What could happen to such girls who are denied access to education and a base for building their own future, is very often child marriage. While young girls become child-brides, young boys get involved in the military or in the workforce which takes away their chance for a better future. What we end up with is a whole generation of young girls and boys forced to let go of a future in which they can be productive members of their society, rather than supporting them during their upbringing and education.

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Ana Dimitrov

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