Education subjected to 10,000 violent attacks

Boy with a toy gun in damaged school in Deir al-Zor, Syria February 2014: Boy with a toy gun in damaged school in Deir al-Zor, Syria

There have been almost 10,000 violent attacks on places of education in recent years, according to the biggest ever international study of how schools and universities are targeted by acts of aggression.

These included the murder of staff and students and the destruction of buildings in bomb and arson attacks, in countries including Pakistan, Nigeria, Colombia, Somalia and Syria.

This stark account of violence against education between 2009 and 2013 has been published by a coalition of human rights groups, aid organisations and United Nations agencies.

The Education Under Attack report, published in New York on Thursday, reveals the extent to which education has been subjected to deliberate acts of violence.

These are not cases of schools and their staff "just caught in the crossfire", says Diya Nijhowne, director of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack.

"They are bombed, burned, shot, threatened, and abducted precisely because of their connection to education."

Thousands of death threats

There were 9,600 attacks worldwide, with incidents recorded in 70 countries, with the worst problems in Africa and parts of Asia and South America. There was a pattern of deliberate attacks in 30 of these countries, where such violence was used as a "tactic of war", said Ms Nijhowne.

These figures do not include the type of school shootings carried out against pupils and staff at Sandy Hook in the US in 2012.

An attack on a school in Nigeria killed 29 students Students were murdered in an attack on a boarding school in Nigeria this week

The country with the greatest number of attacks was Pakistan, with the most common assault being the blowing up of school buildings.

Colombia was the most dangerous place to be a teacher, with 140 murders and thousands of death threats.

For school pupils, Somalia was the country where children were most likely to be pressed into becoming soldiers.

Syria's conflict has seen deadly attacks at universities in Aleppo and Damascus and there were high levels of attacks on students in Yemen and Sudan.

The perpetrators have included government forces, armed insurgents, terror groups and criminal gangs. They have committed murders, abductions and intimidation.

Controlling culture

The shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai by Taliban opponents of girls' education in 2012 focused global attention on such attacks on education.

But this study shows that this was far from an isolated case and that staff and pupils have been singled out for deliberate violence in many different conflicts and ideological battlegrounds.

Malala Yousafzai addressing the UN in summer 2013 Malala Yousafzai addressing the United Nations about the right to education

This week in north-east Nigeria at least 29 teenage boys were killed in a massacre at a boarding school. Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group opposed to western education, is suspected of carrying out the attack.

The Education Under Attack report says that 30 teachers were shot dead in Nigeria last year, including some in front of a class.

Attacks on education can be a proxy for other conflicts, such as trying to undermine a government symbol or trying to promote a political, religious or ideological message or to terrorise another community.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan there have been violent attacks against the education of women.

Or else targeting students can be a way of pursuing a sectarian dispute. In Burma, also known as Myanmar, last year, a Buddhist nationalist mob set upon boys from a Muslim school, hacking dozens to death.

In 2010, in Iraq an escorted convoy of Christian students travelling to university were the victims of a car bomb attack.

Destroying skills

There can also be more specific campaigns. In Mexico there were six bomb attacks on universities by a group opposed to nanotechnology research.

School damaged by bomb in Tora Warai Pakistan February 2014: School damaged by bomb in Tora Warai Pakistan

Teachers in Colombia have faced violence from armed groups, including rival paramilitary forces and criminal gangs.

As community leaders they are targeted by groups wanting to intimidate local people or to recruit school pupils into armed gangs.

The impact of violence can reach beyond the individual victims.

Terrorising academics and students in university can destroy the research capacity of an economy, warns the report, and trigger the departure of highly-skilled young people.

Intellectual curiosity and free speech, necessary in academic life, can be undermined by the threat of violence, with fear prompting "self-censorship" and a brain drain to other safer countries.

Occupying buildings

There are also concerns about armed groups occupying educational premises, using them as barracks or training bases or sometimes as detention centres or even places of torture.

Autumn 2013: Ali Hamza, 8, sits at the graves of his brother, Mohammed, and sister Asinat A car bomb near a school in Qabak, Iraq, killed this boy's brother and sister

In 24 of the 30 countries worst affected by attacks on education, there were cases of schools being taken over by military forces.

This also puts buildings at risk from attacks from opposing forces, says the report's lead researcher, Brendan O'Malley.

In Somalia, the report says, schools have been used as firing positions and faced incoming rockets, while the classrooms were still being used by pupils.

The study calls for the creation of "safe zones" around schools and wants combatants to recognise the need to protect places of education.

Mr O'Malley says a positive step would be a common agreement "not to use schools for military purposes".

There are also calls for a clearer path for investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of acts of violence against schools and their staff and pupils.

As well as the loss of life, violent conflict is one of the biggest causes of a loss of education.

About half of the 57 million children without access to any school place live in areas disrupted by war and violence.

"It's not just the killings that spread fear and blight lives. The relentless destruction of schools in some areas of conflict is depriving whole cohorts of children of an education," says Mr O'Malley.

"There is a knock-on effect on social and economic development in places that can least afford to be held back.

"Where the government lacks the capacity or will to repair damaged schools, the effects can be felt for years after the attacks have happened."

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

Business Live

  1.  
    Cranking up Lada Via Email Theo Leggett Business reporter, BBC News

    "The Kremlin may be seeking to restore Russian pride in Lada - but it's relying on foreign investment to do it. The brand's parent, Avtovaz, is majority owned by the Renault-Nissan alliance - so these days its Russian identity has distinctly Franco-Japanese overtones. Oh, and last week, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the falling rouble was causing a "bloodbath" in the Russian car industry."

     
  2.  
    10:56: Tesco inquiry Kamal Ahmed BBC Business editor

    "The fact that the inquiry will investigate three years of accounts will concern investors as it could reveal further evidence that the problems go back further than initially thought. The FRC's arsenal if any wrong-doing is found is formidable. It can impose unlimited fines on PwC, it can demand unlimited costs and it can strike off any individual found to have behaved improperly."

     
  3.  
    10:46: Banking's reputation

    The Bank of England has urged banks to go further than "stress testing" to regain their customers' confidence. This from the latest Financial Policy Committee minutes: "Committee members also noted that recent misconduct and other operational failings had highlighted that rebuilding confidence in the banking system would require more than financial resilience... The Committee judged that strong, effective and well-informed management and governance arrangements would be essential to rebuild confidence in the banking system."

     
  4.  
    Via Twitter James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    "Shoppers rescued from flooded Asda in Kilmarnock"

    East Ayrshire Police
     
  5.  
    10:20: Tesco inquiry

    Our business editor points out that the Financial Reporting Council only has power over its members - i.e. auditors, which in Tesco's case were PwC. However, the FRC can ask Tesco to assist in the investigation.

     
  6.  
    Via Twitter Kamal Ahmed BBC Business editor

    "FRC's inquiry will include PWC's auditing of Tesco's accounts as well as the preparation of those accounts"

     
  7.  
    Breaking News
  8.  
    09:55: Scotland's budget
    North Sea Oil

    The lead in the Financial Times is a suggestion that Scotland may have been saved from a crisis in its public finances by voting "no" in the referendum on independence. It says projections by the Office for Budget Responsibility suggest that had Scotland voted "yes", the falling oil prices would have led to its North Sea oil revenues slumping to just one-fifth of Holyrood's preferred forecasts in the country's first year of independence.

     
  9.  
    09:40: Snow-plough parents
    Skiing

    The Times highlights what it says is a new trend for well-heeled British parents: hiring private tutors to accompany them on family skiing trips. This apparently allows teenagers to cram for forthcoming exams, while still enjoying some action on the piste. The paper says it brings fresh meaning to the term "snow-plough parents" - those over-protective parents, bent on removing every obstacle in their offspring's path.

     
  10.  
    09:25: Spanish tax
    Cristina

    A judge in Spain has ordered that Princess Cristina de Borbon, the sister of the Spanish King, be tried on charges of tax fraud. It will be the first time a member of the Spanish royal family appears in the dock.

     
  11.  
    09:10: Facebook friends Russia
    Navalny

    On its front page, The Independent reports that Facebook has been accused of giving in to censorship after it apparently blocked access to a protest page on its site - under pressure from the Kremlin. A former US ambassador to Russia describes it as a "horrible precedent". According to The Daily Telegraph, Facebook has declined to comment on the suggestion that it stopped Russian users from viewing a page, rallying support for one of President Putin's most prominent opponents.

     
  12.  
    08:55: UK jobs Radio 5 live

    The employers' organisation, the CBI, says its latest survey suggests that half of its members plan to take on more staff next year. "Skills are at a premium in lots of areas," says CBI's director for employment and skills, Neil Carberry. "In fact one of the things we found in this year's survey is the biggest worry now for companies in their broadly rosy picture is whether they can get the skills they need to keep growing."

     
  13.  
    08:45: Markets update

    The main European markets are all looking rather chirpy this morning. Gains for oil firms, including Tullow Oil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP are driving the FTSE up 1% to 6,608. That's partly because Brent Crude has risen by 2% to $62.24 a barrel. In Germany, the Dax is up 0.9% to 9872, while in France, the Cac-40 is up 1.2% to 4293.

     
  14.  
    Cranking up Lada 08:28: Via Email Tony Higgins Lada owner

    "We had a Lada Niva. We bought it when we moved to a Lancashire hill farm in 1993. It was great. The early years were bad winters but the Lada coped very well. It was like a crab both on and off road, permanent 4WD. No power steering so hard work."

     
  15.  
    08:12: Pull over, Uber
    Xiaomi

    Uber may have been valued at $40bn, but one Chinese tech firm could now be worth an estimated $45bn, despite being relatively unknown outside Asia. The WSJ reports that smartphone and tablet maker Xiaomi, whose polished branding and devoted fan base is reminiscent of Apple's, has overtaken Samsung in China, but faces several challenges in expanding into India and beyond.

     
  16.  
    07:54: Cranking up Lada

    So, on to some of those Lada jokes. What do you call a Lada with a sun roof? A skip. What do you call a Lada with a sunroof and twin exhausts? A wheelbarrow. Etc. Send us your favourite Lada jokes: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk and we will publish the best. Or if you've driven a Lada, and think they get a bad rap, let us know.

     
  17.  
    07:49: Cranking up Lada
    Lada

    The New York Times reports that the Kremlin is seeking to revive Russia's last major Soviet brand - the carmaker Lada. It has recruited Swedish-American Bo Inge Andersson, previously a vice president at General Motors. Lada, historically the butt of many jokes, still accounts for a third of all cars in Russia, and as foreign companies like Audi and Jaguar Land Rover suspend sales in the country due to the plummeting rouble, the utilitarian company could return to strength.

     
  18.  
    07:35: B&Q China
    bnq

    Kingfisher says it will flog its controlling 70% stake in B&Q China to Wumei Holdings for £140m. It opened its first B&Q in the country in 1999.

     
  19.  
    07:25: Oil blessing?

    The Guardian's leader takes a contrarian stance on falling oil prices, which have been widely welcomed by Western consumers. "Oil has dipped 40%, pessimists fear, because the world no longer expects a return to economic full pelt," it argues. "Europe, Japan and - relative to its own vigorous standards - China, have all been looking anaemic this year. Like low blood pressure after a heart attack, then, cheap oil should arguably be regarded not as a sign of rude health, but rather as a consequence of malaise."

     
  20.  
    07:12: Budget Samsung
    Samsung

    $100 for a Samsung smartphone? CNBC reports the South Korean company is entering the increasingly competitive budget handset market, in a bid to sell more phones in India, where many people still use simple phones. The new handset will run Samsung's own Tizen software.

     
  21.  
    06:58: Rates Radio 5 live

    The Bank of England's Martin Weale adds that he is optimistic about the year ahead. More money to spend from cheaper oil will help. He's on the committee that helps decide the key interest rate. Will it rise this year? He's careful not to second-guess his colleagues on that one.

     
  22.  
    06:46: Santa rally? Radio 5 live
    santa

    Will there be a so-called Santa rally this year? A rise in markets in the days around Christmas? Brenda Kelly from IG says you see one in almost nine out of every 10 years since the '80s.

     
  23.  
    06:28: Rates Radio 5 live

    The Bank of England's Martin Weale has been telling Wake Up to Money why he's been voting for interest rates to move off the record low of 0.5%. "It isn't only that unemployment has been falling - at least until recently extremely rapidly. It's also that when I go and visit businesses throughout the country I find they're talking of pay increases in a way quite different from what I was hearing early in the year certainly this time last year."

     
  24.  
    06:16: Markets Radio 5 live

    Brenda Kelly from IG is Wake Up to Money's markets guest. They are talking about the falling oil prices. "A lot of it is down to a glut of supply and Saudi Arabia wants to keep market share," she says. Saudi's breakeven price is only a few dollars per barrel.

     
  25.  
    06:10: Christmas spending Radio 5 live

    Mark Barnett, UK & Ireland president of Mastercard, is on Wake Up to Money, talking about Christmas shopping habits. What else? People have returned to luxury goods, he said. Holidays and furniture are down a little bit though.

     
  26.  
    06:04: Hacking 2.0
    Kim Jong

    The global cyberwar that dominated headlines last week shows no signs of abating. Hackers have infiltrated South Korea's nuclear power provider, and posted schematics of nuclear reactors and private personal records online. It's not clear whether the same group that attacked Sony Pictures is responsible.

     
  27.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Morning! Get in touch. Tell us what you think. Email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or on Twitter @BBCBusiness

     
  28.  
    06:00: Joe Miller Business Reporter

    Good morning, and festive greetings all round. In a week when the business world is winding down for Christmas, we'll bring you all the news that's sneaking in the back door, and much more besides.

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • (File photo) A man dressed as Father Christmas with a sleigh and a reindeer Click Watch

    A website which tracks Father Christmas, plus other sites and apps to keep you entertained

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.