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Print this pageDAY OF GENERAL DISCUSSION: Report




Child Rights International Network

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Publication (general)

Skip to: Report from working group one (Continuation and/or Reconstruction of the Educational System | Working group two (Content and Quality of Education Provided for Children in Emergency Situations)

Child rights experts gathered for day-long talks at the United Nations to discuss the education of children in emergencies.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child's General Day of Discussion (what is this?) was held at Palais Wilson, Geneva, on Friday 19 September.

During the opening of the meeting, a minute’s silence was held in memory of Jackie Kirk, a Professor of Education and aid worker who was killed by gunmen in an attack in Afghanistan in August.

Cream Wright, Chief of the Education Section at UNICEF HQ, then began the introductory statements. He noted that the discussions should not just concern rights when there is an emergency, but rights prior to the emergency taking place.

He added: “Unfortunately, we are still in a situation where the international community is very quick to provide funding for emergencies, but not for education in emergencies.”

Mr Wright asked the Committee to issue a general comment on education in emergencies.

Tove Wang, of Save the Children, reminded participants that: “States have, for a long time, expressed that children have the right to education, regardless of legal status, if they are a refugee, if they are displaced, or in any other kind of emergency.

“Children in emergencies are the hardest to reach in terms of education. Yet education can protect from other rights violations, such as death, hygiene and health. Children who are in school are less likely to be recruited into armed groups or trafficked.
Quality education increases children's future potential.”

Ms Wang made four recommendations: Adopt national legislative and budgetary measures; develop an education and emergency preparedness plan; support the inclusion of education as part of peace agreements; protect schools from attack

She noted that only five states who have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child have a policy on education in emergencies

Vernor Munoz, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, the event’s keynote speaker, noted that about 90 per cent of people those by natural disasters live in countries which have a lesser ability to deal with such disasters. He also said that natural disasters affect seven times more people than conflict.

“Education mitigates the psychosocial impact of disasters,” he said, adding that “education can also save lives in that it protects people from exploitation and harm.”

Mr Munoz told participants that in 2004, only 1.5 per cent of humanitarian assistance was allocated to education programmes. He added that attacks on schools, pupils and teachers could not go unpunished.

After the preliminary presentations, the group split into working groups on the Continuation and/or Reconstruction of the Educational System and the Content and Quality of Education Provided for Children in Emergency Situations.

Concluding remarks (following the working groups)

As the session drew to a close, Moushira Khattab, of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, voiced some overall conclusions:

  • States Parties should be guided overall
  • Education in emergencies is a right 
  • The position of the Committee represents the continuation of a process begun at the issue of General Comment one on the aims of education, where there was attention to quality education in emergency situations, and number six on the treatment of unaccompanied children
  • The Committee received 20 written submissions

Ms Khattab spoke of five key messages:

1. Education is a human right and children do not forfeit this right to quality when an emergency strikes
2. Education is a relief message
3. Education must form an integral part of every humanitarian response
4. Education must be provided from the outset
5. Minimum standards must be respected

Key issues from the two groups were: Predict - Prepare - Prevent - Participation.

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Last updated 23/09/2008 05:13:31

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.

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