15 reasons (every day) why urgent action is needed to make schools safe

Send My Friend To School Safe Schools Graphic
There were 2832 reported attacks against education in 20 countries in 2016 (Send My Friend to School)

Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies, Right to education, Safe schools, Safe Schools Declaration

That's the average number of life-threatening attacks on education each school day around the world, says a new campaign aimed at British schoolchildren.

For most children in the United Kingdom, school is a place of safety and learning. But for millions of children in other parts of the world, school can be a place of violence and danger.

Young people across the UK are being asked today to think about attacks on education and about how to make schools safe.

Send My Friend to School – a group of more than 20 British charities and teaching unions – has launched a report which highlights that there are an average of 15 life-threatening attacks on education every school day.

The report echoes Theirworld’s #SafeSchools campaign, which calls on governments, donors and the international community to take action to ensure every child’s right to an education without fear of violence or attack.

In December we published a #SafeSchools briefing document that looked at the scale and impact of violence against children at school and made recommendations on how to tackle the issue.

Send My Friend to School is also asking British schoolchildren to press the UK government into signing the Safe Schools Declaration – a commitment to protect education and stop military use of schools that has been signed by 72 countries. 

Theirworld has been asking our supporters to urge the UK and other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to sign. Only France has done so – now we need the UK, China, Russia and the United States to follow their lead.

Send My Friend to School is the UK coalition of the Global Campaign For Education movement in more than 80 countries around the world. Its members include Save the Children, Plan International and ActionAid.

Its new report is titled Safe from Harm: Protecting every child and teacher at school

Here’s a look at some of the key findings:

  • Using United Nations data covering all of 2016, its analysis found that – on average – at least 15 life-threatening attacks on education occur every school day.
  • There were 2832 reported attacks against education in 20 countries and 205 cases of the military use and occupation of schools in 14 countries. 
  • In at least 30 countries, there is a pattern of attacks on education
    by state security forces and non-state armed groups. The impact is that one in four children living in conflict zones do not attend school.

The report also outlined that violence at school comes in many forms. As well as attacks and military use of schools, children and teachers need to be protected from several types of threats.

Send My Friend To School 2

Destroyed school in the Idleb suburbs in Northern Syria. This school was attacked and bombed three times. (Ahmad Baroudi/ Save the Children)

Many forms of school violence include...


Against schoolchildren and education personnel.


Undermines children’s and teachers’ psychological wellbeing, including verbal and/or emotional abuse.


Intimidation of a sexual nature, sexual harassment, unwanted touching, sexual coercion and rape.


Intentional and aggressive behaviour where there is a real or perceived power imbalance and where the victims feel vulnerable and powerless.


Practices, teaching methods, curricula and/or facilities that stop children learning.

Send My Friend To School 3

Children attending a morning session at Kinojo School, Rwanda (Save the Children)

Examples of attacks on schools


In 2016 there were 69 attacks on educational facilities and personnel in Syria. In 2015, 571 students and 419 teachers were killed. Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 6500 schools have been destroyed, partially damaged, used as shelters for internally displaced persons or rendered otherwise inaccessible.


1500 schools were destroyed in north-east Nigeria, including 524 in Borno State, in 2016. This has prevented access to education for more than 400,000 children.

West Bank

There were 283 incidents in 2016, including 96 cases of schools coming under fire during military-led operations and clashes, 46 attacks and threats of violence against students and teachers by Israeli security forces and settlers,and 62 instances of interference with education owing to the closure of schools or the arrest and detention of staff and students.


Eleven schools were damaged in crossfire and by landmines and explosive remnants of war.


There were 14 attacks on educational institutions, leading to the destruction of schools, including one girls’ school. 

Hollie Warren, Send My Friend Coalition Policy Co-Chair, said: “Today marks the launch of our new campaign Make Schools Safe. The campaign is an important opportunity to engage UK children and young people with the issues faced by children just like them who are simply trying to realise their right to an education. 

“It is so important that governments like the UK do what they can to promote the protection of children from attack at school. That’s why we’re calling on Theresa May to commit the UK to join the other 72 states who have signed the Safe Schools Declaration.”

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