Speaking from the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr Brown said:
“It has been one month since the kidnapping of 89 South Sudanese boys from their classrooms to train then as child soldiers,
“It has been three months since the Peshawar school attack where 140 were killed,
“It is one year on from Boko Haram’s mass abduction of more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria,
“It is exactly four years since the Syria conflict began, which has exiled one million children and displaced two million more, most of whom are no longer at school.
“It is time for us to end the shameful breaches of international law that violate the rights of millions of children by calling a halt to the militarization of schools, stopping the now-growing abduction of school pupils as weapons of war and insisting – even in conflict zones – that properly resourced ‘safe schools’ enable children to enjoy their education in peace.
‘Today I am making a plea from the heart to the conscience of the world that we now wake up to the suffering faced by millions of children.
There have been more than 10,000 attacks on schools during the past five years
Terror attacks on schools around the world have risen to higher levels than at any point in 40 years
28 million boys and girls are not in school in areas of conflict or emergency
Children’s rights are abused with little clarity about the rules and guidelines that would ensure schools had the same protection as safe havens and hospitals have under the Geneva Conventions
And today only one per cent of humanitarian aid is allocated to education
“I have visited Pakistan, Nigeria, the DRC and South Sudan and will soon visit Lebanon and seen how children have become the silent tragic victims of conflict: their rights neglected as world renowned author JK Rowling has said because ‘who is easier to silence than a child.’
“I want to propose urgent action to deal with what has, even in the early months of 2015, become a growing crisis from Iraq to Nigeria, from South Sudan to Pakistan.
“Today I am calling for four fundamental changes to strengthen our defense of the rights of schoolgirls and boys. And I am promising to urge the international community to invest in making our schools safer in some of the most troubled and dangerous areas of the world.”
“First, I call on international partners to reach agreement this spring on a new multi-million dollar Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies. We have set a deadline for progress at the Oslo Summit on Global Education in July.
“Second, with the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Borge Brende, I am calling a conference on educating the half-million Syrian child refugees in Lebanon on April 16 in Washington in support of a new pact for the delivery of education with the Lebanese minister of education, our aim to raise the missing $163m needed to operate a double shift system in Lebanese schools to educate all Syrian child refugees.
“Third, following the successful start to the Safe Schools Initiative in Nigeria, which has the support of President Goodluck Jonathan, we are now announcing today a new safe schools partnership between private and public sectors starting in Pakistan. With the support announced today of Prime Minister Sharif, we will launch a 1,000 school pilot to use technology to make schools safe. And we will shortly announce plans to extend the Safe Schools Initiative to South Sudan, Lebanon and the DRC.
On Wednesday, speaking from Islamabad, Prime Minister Sharif said:
“The Government of Pakistan is committed to rooting out terrorism and extremism from the country. Security of the educational institutions is at the core of the national agenda of the Government. We appreciate technological assistance from friends as terrorism has no boundaries and terrorists have no religion. Pakistan has been at the forefront of international efforts to counter terrorism and has rendered great sacrifices in this regard. We value the support and cooperation extended by Rt Hon Gordon Brown and all other partner organizations to make the Pakistani schools safe and secure and to improve the standard of education in the country.”
“Fourth, we are asking all countries to sign the international Safe School Declaration to protect schools from military use and attacks – giving schools the same protections as Red Cross hospitals. These efforts to protect schools from attack are now supported by 30 countries and international organizations.
“The tragedy in South Sudan with schools being militarized and over 12,000 children abducted to serve as child soldiers must be stopped. I am supporting the education campaigns of UNICEF to help 400,000 South Sudanese children go back to Safe Schools.
‘I look forward to this year’s Security Council report on children in armed conflict to be presented by the excellent and hard-working UN Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict who has given special attention this year to violations in South Sudan.
“Among the new developments to address the children’s crisis, I can announce today a 1,000 school pilot in Pakistan in a partnership between the government, UNICEF and the Global Business Coalition for Education, spearheaded by a pro-bono technology contribution from Predictify.Me, a US-based data sciences and predictive analytics firm. The partnership will deliver state-of-the-art technology and simulation software to assess the level of risk preparedness of schools and generate recommendations for school and community safety plans. Each school will receive specific recommendations for improving the school’s set-up to become safer and recommendations for community measures and ongoing risk forecasts.
“In Nigeria, the Safe Schools Initiative, established in response to the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls nearly one year ago, has reached $30 million, with the most recent contribution from the United States government as part of the White House’s Let Girls Learn initiative. Brown announced that nearly 30,000 children displaced by Boko Haram are in double-shift schools and additional children in at-risk areas are benefiting from school relocation and increased security measures.
“I am calling for the release of the more than 200 school girls abducted in Nigeria before the one year anniversary on April 14th and for a release of the 89 schoolboys who were sitting for exams in Wau Shilluk, South Sudan. It is sad that the kidnappers are now offering to return the children to sit for their exams but then keep them in captivity to serve as child soldiers.”
Brown added: “We can no longer wait. It is time for decisive action,” insisting a new fund for education in emergencies is necessary to prevent millions of children and youth from falling through the cracks. “We must build stronger and more innovative partnerships linking business, technology, foundations and governments to deliver on the safe schools agenda.”
Three countries are now benefiting from “Safe Schools” efforts backed by the UN Special Envoy.
PAKISTAN SAFE SCHOOLS
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif supported a Safe Schools Initiative with the UN Special Envoy following a 15-point best practices plan released by global education campaign A World at School.
Brown backs a new, innovative partnership which will deliver state-of-the-art technology to promote Safe Schools in Pakistan in cooperation with the government, UNICEF, the Global Business Coalition for Education and local NGOs.
Spearheaded by pro-bono technology contribution from Predictify.Me, a US-based data sciences and predictive analytics firm, headed by Rob Burns, CEO and Dr Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist.
The Pakistan Safe Schools initiative will introduce the use of simulation software to assess the level of risk preparedness of schools and generate recommendations for school and community safety plans.
New scheme will start with a 1,000-school pilot covering all four provinces and the federal territory of Islamabad.
Each participating school will receive a report providing a designation on the degree of risk, specific recommendations for improving the school’s set-up to become safer and recommendations for community measures and ongoing risk forecasts.
Call to action for donors to come on board to support this work so it can be rolled out and scaled up nationally.
NIGERIA SAFE SCHOOLS
In Nigeria, the Safe Schools initiative, catalyzed by an initial investment by Global Business Coalition for Education corporate leaders, has mobilized more than $30million for the protection of schools.
International support has come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany and the African Development Bank.
One million Nigerians are internally displaced, 157,000 refugees in Niger, 40,000 in Cameroon and 17,000 in Chad.
Six million of the 11 million Nigerians who live in the three states under State of emergency have been affected by the insecurity, with four million in Borno State alone.
By end of 2014, according to UNICEF, a total of 338 schools have been destroyed, at least 196 teachers and more than 314 students killed and more than 276 abducted.
The Safe Schools Initiative has moved forward with three programs:
1. Transfer Program: This program transfers students from high-risk areas in the three states (Adamawa, Borno & Yobe) that have been the most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and are currently on the emergency rule by the federal government. These states have a high risk of attacks on schools. Students are transferred to one of 43 federal community colleges across the northern part of the country. The program started with 2,400 students from the three states (800 from each state).
2. Safe Schools Model: This model rebuilds schools to make them more secure and safer for children and teachers. The Nigerian Army Engineer Corps assessed schools in each state to determine what is needed to make the schools secure to deliver quality education.
- Scanners, solar power and risk profiles for schools have been part of these efforts.
- Strengthening the School-based Management Committees (the link between the school, community and first responders) to determine who to call when an alarm is sounded.
- Considering issues around emergency planning, emergency management and evacuation plans
3. Education provision for internally displaced individuals: UNICEF has been leading and working with government to provide education to IDPs living in camps. This includes the procurement of school-in-a-box kits and 35,000 schoolbags for displaced students to be distributed in the camps. Activities to have a double-shift schedule and multi-grade patterns are underway.
LEBANON SAFE SCHOOLS
More than 14million children are suffering as a result of war in Syria and Iraq with an estimated three million girls and boys forced out of school, many for years.
The humanitarian appeal for the education sector remains only 15 per cent funded in 2015.
In Lebanon, partners are working to ensure financing for nearly 500,000 out-of-school children.
Brown agrees with the Lebanese Minister of Education’s proposal for an enrollment pact between government and donors to advance progress in Lebanon.
The UN Envoy is working with the government to ensure delivery arrangements to make education possible and with donors to form a pact for long-term, predictable financing. $100million of the $263million has been delivered in support of the plan.
A meeting will be held April with the government and key donors during the IMF/World Bank Spring meetings to advance progress for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
SOUTH SUDAN SAFE SCHOOLS
70% of the 1200 schools in the major conflict areas are closed and 36 schools are being used for military purposes.
More than 12,000 children have been recruited by all sides in the conflict.
UNICEF continues to urge the release of hundreds of children, including 89 schoolboys about to sit exams, taken from Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile State.
UNICEF has commenced a nationwide back to learning campaign in South Sudan targeting 400,000 out of school children. 200,000 of the target children and adolescents are in the conflict states and have been forced out of school by the fighting
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