Call to protect children’s education in conflict zones

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Gordon Brown and development agencies have called upon the international community to work together in ensuring that children in conflict zones do not miss out on vital education.

The Education for Children Affected by Armed Conflict was hosted by Dr Rowan Williams and reflects an issue that he has taken a keen personal interest in with the promotion of the education services of Anglican Churches in conflict-affected areas.

Brown, who was attending in his new role as the UN Special Envoy on Global Education, said that education could break the cycle of poverty in developing and conflict-affected countries by improving their economies and giving children opportunities.

However, he warned that “drastic action” was needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals – which includes the goal to achieve universal primary education – by the target date of 2015.

Development agencies at the conference included World Vision, Islamic Relief, Save the Children, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa.

Several recommendations were made during the conference, including a commitment to “learning for all” beyond 2015, and an increase in the proportion of humanitarian aid going to children in conflict areas and fragile states from 2% to 4%.

Dr Williams said: “This is an issue which takes us to the heart of some of the most disturbing and shocking elements in international life because in recent years , perhaps more than ever, we have seen the disruption of children’s education not only as one of the side effects of conflict but quite often as a deliberate tool of terror.”

In his concluding remarks, the Archbishop welcomed “the practical, robust and constructive recommendations” from the Conference, and said he believed they “could help those who most need the hope, positivity, creativity and sense of agency that education can give”.