Education International welcomes the move by Burkina Faso to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, committing itself to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during times of violent conflict.
Burkina Faso’s government has become the latest country to endorse the international political commitment known as the Safe Schools Declaration. The commendation was issued by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), an inter-agency coalition formed in 2010 to address the issue of targeted attacks on education during armed conflict.
By endorsing the Declaration, the government of Burkina Faso has joined 18 other African Union member states. The African Union Peace and Security Council has repeatedly called on its members to endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration, most recently in June of this year.
The Safe Schools Declaration contains a range of commitments which represent concrete action that governments can take to protect education during war-time. Central to implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration is the commitment to bring the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict into relevant domestic policy and operational frameworks.
Armed forces and armed groups in conflict zones regularly use schools and universities for military purposes, such as bases, barracks, firing positions, armories, and detention centers. This can turn schools and universities into targets for attack, put students and teachers at risk, and deprive children of access to education.
The GCPEA research has shown that armed forces and armed groups have used schools and universities for military purposes in at least 29 countries experiencing armed conflict and insecurity around the world since 2013. The research also shows that a series of attacks on schools has also occurred in at least 27 countries experiencing armed conflict and insecurity in the same period.
The Declaration was developed through consultations with states in a process led by Norway and Argentina in Geneva, Switzerland, and opened for endorsement at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools in 2015. The Second International Conference on Safe Schools was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March 2017.