Workshop on Strengthening the Role of Armed Forces in the Protection from Attack and Educational Institutions from Military Use During Armed Conflicts in Africa the Protection of Education

PRESS STATEMENT, November 14, 2016

Addis Ababa, November 10, 2016 

From November 8-9, 2016, Norway, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), with the help of Save the Children, Pan-African AU Liaison Office, hosted a workshop focused on the implementation of the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. Representatives from Ministries of Defense and Education and the national armed forces of 14 of the seventeen African states that have so far endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, as well as regional and international peacekeeping and education experts, met to exchange practices and experiences regarding the protection of educational facilities during armed conflict. 

The workshop discussed the situations in a number of states, such as the Central African Republic and Nigeria, which are directly affected by armed conflict and where attacks on students, teachers and educational facilities have occurred. Participants also considered the examples of several states, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, which have policies in place preventing the use of educational facilities for military purposes. 

This forum for discussion allowed state representatives to discuss ways in which governments can meet the commitments made in the Safe Schools Declaration and bring the Guidelines into relevant domestic policies and operational frameworks. Presentations made by representatives from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the African Union were equally valuable in showing how different stakeholders can work together to protect educational facilities from attack and prevent their use for military purposes.

The workshop also featured the testing of a draft “Toolkit on the Guidelines,” which is being developed through a partnership between GCPEA and the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. This Toolkit contains guidance and sample instruments that can help states to strengthen trainings and practices on the protection of educational facilities from military use and attack, in line with the guidance contained in the Guidelines. This Toolkit will be launched in 2017 following further consultations with stakeholders. 

We look forward to hearing about the implementation of measures discussed during this workshop at the Second International Safe Schools Conference, scheduled to take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March 2017.