GPE chief Gillard: schools must not be attacked or used to hide weapons

Children in conflicts

The head of the Global Partnership for Education has joined the growing calls for schools to be safe places during wars and conflicts.

Julia Gillard's comments came after three attacks on schools run by the United Nations as shelters for displaced people in Gaza – and missiles fired into Israeli communities.

The GPE chair said: “Schools must be safe places for the world's children. Schools should not be attacked in conflicts nor used to hide weapons.

“The attacks on several UN-run schools in Gaza, killing innocent school children and teachers, are deplorable. It is also wrong for children in Israel to have to live with the threat of missiles indiscriminately targeting their schools, homes and communities.

“This simply has to stop. Schools cannot be part of any conflict. The sanctity of a safe place of learning for innocent children must be protected. It is the responsibility of leaders in Gaza and Israel to ensure that children can learn and teachers teach without the fear of being attacked.”

Ms Gillard said that while humanitarian aid was needed for the people of Gaza, it was also essential that children be able to return to school to have a sense of normality amidst the current chaos.

She added: “Attacks on schools occur not only in Gaza or Nigeria but globally on an ongoing basis. They don’t always make it into the headlines of international news. But we must listen and act every single time.”

The GPE works with the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack to support global efforts to prevent violent attacks on education and improve protection.

The organisation said it is determined to prevent further attacks by:

  • Highlighting the incidence and impact of attacks on education in conflict and insecurity among key actors and cultivate public support for safe education
  • Promoting better systems for monitoring and reporting attacks on education
  • Promoting effective programs and policy to protect education from attack, including prevention and response
  • Advocating adherence to existing international law protecting education and the strengthening of international norms and standards as needed
  • Supporting efforts to end impunity for attacks on education by promoting a range of accountability measures

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