World

Education under Attack 2010

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This report is a follow-up to Education under Attack (2007). Its remit is to track the extent, nature and impact of incidents from January 2007 to July 2009, as well as the measures that have been taken to increase protection for students and education personnel and to reduce impunity for perpetrators.

Its findings are disturbing. The sheer volume of attacks on education documented demonstrates that the demolition of schools and assassination of students and teachers is by no means limited to supporters of the Taliban fighting in the hills of Afghanistan. Education has been attacked in at least 31 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America over the past three years.

Sinister new tactics have emerged - from abducting children from schools for training and use as suicide bombers to mass poisoning of classes. Some incidents have resulted from new trends such as the blurring of the line between military and aid operations in Western military campaigns, others from age-old strategies of wearing down the enemy by destroying their infrastructure.

There are two interesting findings: first, that it is possible to negotiate with rebels, even rebels who seem ideologically opposed to education, to end attacks and reopen schools closed by threats; and second, that giving local communities a sense of ownership of the education process, and of the defence of schools in particular, may reduce the risk of attack.