Nobel prize winners call for education in war zones

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Thirty-one Nobel peace prize winners have called for urgent action to provide good education and build peace in war zones.
The Dalai Lama, the former US president Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi are among the signatories of the first-ever joint statement.
They want world leaders to pay more attention to the educational needs of more than 37 million children who live in countries affected by conflict who cannot go to school.
In a joint letter, initiated by the charity Save the Children, they say: "War and conflict are perpetrated by adults. But every adult was once a child and grew up with experiences and guidance that shaped their lives.
"At the heart of this lies education. But if more than 70 million children do not even have the chance to go to school, and more than half of these children live in countries affected by armed conflict - what are these children learning?"
Millions of children continue to be denied an education because of war, despite world leaders' target to make sure every child has a primary education by 2015.
Even before the fighting escalated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 5 million of the 9.6 million school-age children were unable to go to school.
More children have been forced to flee their schools in recent weeks and some schools have been targeted to recruit child soldiers, the charity said.
An analysis of civil wars of the past 50 years showed that each year of formal schooling attended by boys reduces the risk of their becoming involved in conflict by 20% - yet children in trapped in this spiral of conflict continue to be denied education.
Save the Children is campaigning to provide education for children living in conflict-affected fragile states and for more funding for education to help build peace and stability.
Carter said: "I have seen the beneficial impact of education in promoting peace.
"It would be a mistake to underestimate the influence that children can have in shaping the opinions and decisions of adults."
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, secretary general of the International Save the Children Alliance, said: "We are delighted that these champions of peace have chosen to speak out with a united voice for the first time.
"Their support shows that if the international community is serious about ending conflict and building lasting peace in countries like Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan, then education has to be a top priority."