Education is key for personal development, social transformation, improved equity, prosperity, resilience and peace building. Education responds to multiple needs of children, is a powerful equality builder, and offers protection and hope for better future.
Access to safe and quality education is the fundament right of every child.
Schools should be safe places, protected in all circumstances. Every girl and boy should be safe when going to or attending school and should be able to learn without being exposed to violence and fear.
Yet, many children in armed conflict, in particular girls, face gross violations of their human rights with impunity. They are deprived of education opportunities due to attacks and threats of attacks against schools, damaged or destroyed education facilities, mines, insecurity and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence against children, in and around schools.
This is on the increase with more and more education personnel exposed to attacks, and is compounded by the disastrous impact of COVID-19 pandemic on education.
One in three of the world’s schoolchildren, and especially girls, were not able to access remote learning during the COVID 19 pandemic. The disruption of learning led to many dropping out of school early, making them more vulnerable to child labour, child recruitment by armed groups and armed forces, to forced marriage and early pregnancies as well as exposing them to other forms of violence such as gender-based violence.
With less than 10 years to achieve SDG4, we must work together as never before to unlock progress to offer 12 years of safe and quality education for all children.
We clearly have to intensify and coordinate better efforts to ensure compliance with the International Humanitarian Law, to protect education, to safeguard access to safe learning and to address all types of violence against children and education personnel.
We welcome the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2601 and commend Norway and Niger for their leadership in bringing this important topic to the Security Council. Now it is time for a close follow up of its implementation.
The EU’s key commitments are enshrined in the EU’s policy on Education in Emergencies and Protracted Crises, adopted in 2018, and reinforced in the first EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, adopted this year and the 2021 Communication on the EU’s Humanitarian Action. We would like to stress the importance of integrating digital/ICT solutions as an enabling factor for girls’ education. Girls should be able to benefit from the opportunities offered by the digital transformation.
These political commitments must translate into practice on the ground and strengthen the humanitarian-development-peace approach. That is why our political engagement has resulted in the financial investment of 10% of EU’s humanitarian aid budget to education in emergencies. This means a yearly investment of around EUR 150 million that enables us to support initiatives at global and local level.
Let me conclude by thanking again Norway and Niger for organizing this important meeting; we look forward to following up the implementation of UNSC 2601.