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Safe Schools

This page is about Safe Schools, what they are and where they are needed.

What are Safe Schools?

In times of crisis, such as after a conflict, or natural disaster, children need reliable places where they can continue to learn, play and realise their full potential. Safe Schools offering supervision, services and teaching can save children’s lives in the short term and help them to develop in the long term.

The Safe Schools campaign run by Theirworld and A World at School has been instrumental in securing funding for education in emergencies such as conflicts and disasters.

Why do we need Safe Schools?

When wars, terrorism, earthquakes, flooding and health emergencies strike, children need urgent humanitarian aid such as food, shelter and safety. They also need access to safe places where they can recover from trauma and be with their peers.

Getting children back into school quickly after a crisis can prevent them from falling into child labour, child marriage, exploitation and recruitment by armed groups. 


Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis (December 2018)

A framework for action to deliver Safe, Non-violent, Inclusive and Effective Learning Environments

What is the Safe Schools Declaration?

The Safe Schools Declaration is an international agreement to protect schools, students and teachers during times of armed conflict.

When governments sign up to the Declaration they promise to use the Guidelines For Protecting Schools And Universities From Military Use During Armed Conflict. By April 2018, 74 countries had endorsed it. 

Safe Schools Initiatives around the world

Safe Schools Initiatives have been launched around the world, backed by research and support from Theirworld, the A World at School movement and the Global Business Coalition for Education

Safe Schools in Nigeria

The first Safe Schools Initiative was launched in Nigeria in May 2014 after 276 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok.

It started with an investment from the Global Business Coalition for Education and was supported by A World at School.

Nearly 50,000 children displaced from their homes by Boko Haram have been helped in various ways, including:

  • Moving students in the highest-risk areas to schools to safer parts of the country
  • A programme for rebuilding schools and adding security
  • Teaching and education materials for displaced children in camps
  • Provision and distribution of learning materials
  • Teacher training

When Nigeria's new government took power in 2015, many of the Safe Schools Initiative's activities were not pursued as a policy priority. Campaigners are calling for the initiative to be revived and reinstated.

Safe Schools in the Ebola crisis

In November 2014, business leaders came together to respond to the need for education support in the West African countries affected by Ebola. The crisis had kept more than five million children out of their classrooms and urgently needing safe schools.

A range of measures including distance learning, better staff payment, school reopening, Ebola prevention training and school feeding programmes were put in place in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

Safe Schools for Syrian refugees

Plans were developed to provide safe schools for more than one million Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Theirworld produced the following reports.

Scaling up to Reach One Million Syrian Refugees (September 2015)

Reaching All Children with Education in Lebanon (September 2015)

Ensuring Educational Opportunity for All Syrian Refugee Children and Youth in Turkey (September 2015)

In Lebanon, a double-shift system was set up to allow Lebanese children to go to school in the morning with Syrian refugee children attending in the afternoon.

In Turkey, the need for Syrian refugee children to go to school is being met by in several ways. These include training Syrian and Turkish teachers to better support the refugees, fund places at school refugee children and set up a double-shift system to make better use of schools.

In Jordan, plans are being developed to fund more school places for Syrian refugee children and to find alternatives if school places don’t exist.

Theirworld continues to advocate for donors to follow through on commitments to get all Syrian refugee and vulnerable host community children into school.

Safe Schools in Pakistan

In February 2015 - as a response to the Peshawar school massacre - an initiative was launched called Protecting the Right to Learn in Pakistan. It contained 15 recommendations for creating safe schools for the country’s children.

Safe Schools Latin America

The Global Business Coalition for Education, A World at School and UNICEF launched a Safe Schools Latin America initiative in 2015. Officially called the Strong Schools and Communities Initiative, it seeks to promote actions to reduce the violence in the school environment and ensure the right of all children and adolescents to receive a quality education.

More than 21 million children and adolescents are out of school or at risk of dropping out in the region - with the presence of delinquents, gangs and arms in schools being a major cause.

Funding for Safe Schools and education in emergencies

In May 2016, the Education Cannot Wait fund was launched to help provide education for children living in humanitarian emergencies, including conflicts and disasters. It aims to help more than 13 million children over its first five years and 75 million by 2030.

The fund - which has a five-year funding target of $3.85 billion - aims to better coordinate support for and drive investment in education for all children and young people affected by crises.

A year after Education Cannot Wait’s establishment, 13 countries have been selected to benefit from special funding support. Education Cannot Wait is currently working to promote access to quality education for 3.7 million children – of which 1.6 million are girls – and support 20,000 teachers in Syria, Yemen, Chad, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Peru, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Nepal, Uganda, Somalia and Ukraine. Resilience multi-year programmes are also being developed in Uganda and Lebanon.

In early 2018, after it was announced that UNRWA is currently facing a shortfall of $8.85 million for education needs in Gaza, Education Cannot Wait pledged critical First Emergency Response funding for UNRWA’s operations, allocating a total of $2,067,518.

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