Protection Snapshot: Access to Education in “Other Situations of Violence” in the North of Central America.
The right to education, enshrined in international human rights law, establishes that states must take the necessary steps to ensure that children have universal access to safe and quality education. This right does not stop because of conflict or displacement.
In North of Central America (NCA), universal access to quality education is severely impacted by the ongoing protection crisis. In the communities most affected by criminal violence, walking to school is dangerous, gangs have infiltrated schools, and physical and sexual violence is so high that it is often seen as commonplace. Far from being places that contribute to peace, development and the guarantee of rights, schools have become places where children, adolescents and even teachers are forcibly recruited, extorted, and abused. The response from the governments in the three countries is varied, but all three lack the budgets and public policies needed to address the consequences of violence through a protection lens or to create protection plans for affected children and teachers.
Instead, states often respond to violence through police intervention, placing military or police patrols at school entrances. In 2018 alone, 49,000 children and adolescents dropped out of school in El Salvador (on top of those already out of school)2 . Estimations in 2018 point to up to 900,000 out of school children in Honduras3 , and approximately 1.5 million in Guatemala . School desertion often leads to confinement at home, child labour, forced or coerced recruitment, internal or cross-border displacement, among other consequences.
This protection snapshot highlights: the risks that children, teachers, schools and communities face; the state and humanitarian responses; and a series of recommendations put forward by a selection of humanitarian organisations working on education in the region. The research focuses on access to public education for children between 6 and 18 years old.