Wed, Mar 03 2011
Armed conflict and political unrest throughout the world constitute one of the biggest threats to children receiving sufficient education, UNESCO has said in a new report released Tuesday.
The report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization entitled “The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education,” highlights the need to minimize the dangers threatening education in times of conflict.
The head of UNESCO’s bureau in Beirut, Abdel Moneim Osman, said the report provides policymakers with the knowledge needed to tackle educational issues in the region.
More than 20 children kicked off a news conference in a Beirut hotel to launch the report with a performance of UNESCO’s new anthem, “Human’s anthem on Earth,” singing lyrics praising education and rejecting violence.
Written and composed by Lebanese musicians Charles Henri Zogheib and Eduard Torigian, the new anthem came as UNESCO Beirut office celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Beirut office functions as a hub for UNESCO to reach its goal of “education for all” in several countries in the region.
“Through the report, governments and educational experts would have access to significant information to effectively approach the full implementation of the goals [agreed upon by the World Conference on Education for All],” said Osman in reference to the goals set out by UNESCO in 1990 to meet basic learning needs worldwide.
The goals include expanding early childhood care and education, providing free and compulsory primary education for all and improving the quality of education.
The latest report indicates that the renewal of armed conflicts in several parts of the world, including Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen has been the main factor behind the failure to achieve these goals.
Osman said that it is vital to safeguard the right of education even in regions where armed conflict persists, and to equip schools and professionals with the relevant expertise to be able to resume classes adequately once the conflict ends.
Educational expert Professor Hiyam al-Zein said that one of the biggest challenges in conflict-stricken countries was the transition from an emergency status during a conflict into a peaceful status, which can leave both children and teachers overwhelmed with trauma and stress.
“Arranging the right environment is important for spreading awareness to children, teachers and families through social services,” Zein added.
Following Lebanon’s summer 2006 war with Israel, those students in south Lebanon who were able to join a school in the aftermath of the conflict had to attend classes containing over 50 pupils.
Experts said that not only are problems facing the education sector a direct result of armed conflict and unrest, but that poor education also contributes to creating conflict.
The UNESCO report called for transforming education into a weapon to defend stability and peace.