INTERNATIONAL DAY TO PREVENT EDUCATION FROM ATTACK
By 2020 Diana Award recipient, Lauren Galley from New Mexico, USA
Lauren has empowered girls through hundreds of thousands of one-to-one sessions through her ‘Girl Power Camps’ and given hundreds of key notes speeches across the United States. Lauren’s tireless work and passion has also led to the development of a ‘GIRL TALK’ curriculum for US schools, as well as a supportive pen power programme in Africa.
9 September 2021
War and conflict are the greatest challenges preventing children from accessing education.
Consistent opportunities for education have been destroyed by war, displacement and Covid-19. More than 75 million 3-18-year-olds are living in 35 crisis-affected countries. As governments continue to overcome Covid-19, the pandemic has led to school closures for more than 90% of the world’s student population. (Statistic reference).
International Day to Protect Education from Attack was celebrated for the first time in 2020. The United Nations is sending a clear message regarding the importance of safeguarding schools as places of protection and safety for students and educators and the need to keep education at the top of the public agenda.
The conflicts of war also have a direct impact on children’s mental health and well-being. Armed forces and groups threaten and attack children as they travel to school. Some groups directly target schools with heavy weaponry and occupy schools for military purposes.
If you have never experienced living in a war-torn country, you might compare your normal walk to school to any other child. Life is far from normal when you live in a landscape that produces sounds of mortar attacks, gunshots, and physical abuse throughout the day.
10-year-old Josef from Yemen says, “When I hear the explosions I get scared, but when I’m in the classroom I feel safe.” (UN Refugee Agency)
Education transforms children’s lives by helping them overcome poverty. This leads to better health and increased income opportunities. Without it, many children remain trapped in a life of poverty and hardship their entire lives. Education is the priority that can transform a village. When a village is prosperous, the ripple effect can improve an entire nation. Regardless of economics and war, children have dreams. My non-profit organization Girls Above Society spent two months collecting data from their Global Virtual Pen Pal Project. Eight school-age girls in Ghana had the opportunity to share their dreams and ask questions to a panel of youth mentors in the U.S. One might think that the girls in Ghana would have little in common with the girls in the U.S. This was not the case. Each of these girls had more in common and shared the same goals and hopes for their future selves despite dealing with poverty and conflict, their sole reason for dropping out of school. Temptations with money for sexual favours from undesirable adults are a “normal” means to purchase school supplies and survive. This behaviour cycle eliminates education for many girls.
Teen schoolgirls in Ghana, Africa participate in Global Virtual Pen Pal Experience – Girls Above Society.
How can we make a difference, especially if we feel disconnected from the situation at hand? This entire blog is about the importance of education during war and conflict but ironic that anyone reading this post is expanding their minds… Education is key for not only youth but for all of us at hand.
This link goes more in-depth regarding International Day to Prevent Education from Attack.
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“It takes a village.” Change begins with us.
Education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world.