Fri Jun 13, 2014, 06:20 AM

Norway: Leading Way to End Military Use of Schools

Geneva - The Norwegian government’s leadership to promote international standards to protect schools and universities from military use during armed conflict could spare students and teachers the horrors of war, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack said today. Countries around the globe should work with Norway to support this initiative. Norway’s announcement on June 13, 2014 was contained in its new white paper on global education.

The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) consists of international organizations, including CARA (Council for At-Risk Academics), Human Rights Watch, the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict, Save the Children International, the Scholars at Risk Network, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and UNICEF.

“Armies and armed groups are turning places of learning into battlefields by using them for military purposes,” said Bede Sheppard, deputy children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch and chair of GCPEA’s working group on protecting schools and universities from military use. “Countless students stand to benefit from a safer education thanks to Norway’s efforts to secure better protection for schools from military use.”

In most countries with armed conflicts around the world, national armed forces and armed groups have used schools for military purposes, with devastating consequences for children and their right to education. Forces have converted schools into defensive positions, barracks, detention facilities, military training camps, weapons depots, and bases for military operations. Forces often take over only part of a school, putting students attempting to continue their studies potentially in the line of fire. Military deployments also expose students to sexual violence, forced labor, and forcible recruitment by the soldiers sharing their schools.

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