Protecting and Ensuring Safe Access to education: The ICRC’s Experience and Approach in Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence

International Committee of the Red Cross, February 22, 2024


Armed conflict and other violence have a devastating impact on education. One in three of the world’s school-aged children lives in a country affected by conflict or disasters. Between 2015 and 2022, there were 16,000 reports around the world of attacks on education or military use of educational facilities, harming over 31,000 students, teachers and other education personnel. Education is particularly vulnerable to shocks; beside the damage done by attacks, threats of violence will often cause schools to close, with teachers, children and families afraid for their safety. When education services are disrupted or close down, the long-term consequences for the communities’ development and future stability are devastating.

This report provides an overview of what the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) does to protect and ensure safe access to education in places affected by armed conflict and other violence. Six years have passed since we adopted our Framework for Access to Education. The Framework consolidated for the first time our overall approach to access to education, based on a range of previous experiences and practices which had emerged organically in our work over time. This report documents the approaches we have taken to integrate access to education into our broader humanitarian response and the key take-aways from the organization’s experiences so far. The report draws on the findings of an internal review into our education-related work carried out in 2020.

The report has two objectives: First, to give a humanitarian perspective on the many ways in which conflict and other violence disrupts learning and to pay tribute to the perseverance and resourcefulness of children, young adults, teachers, parents and entire communities who ensure that schooling can continue in spite of war. Second, to familiarize governments, donors and peer organizations with the ICRC’s approach to protecting and ensuring safe access to education during armed conflict and other violence.

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