The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Jénine Shepherd
On September 9, each year we pause to recognise International Day To Protect Education From Attack. Across the world, education continues to be the recipient of various assaults by groups and armed forces resulting in widespread learning loss.
According to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, a unique inter-agency coalition formed in 2010 to address the problem of targeted attacks on education, between 2015 and 2019, 93 countries experienced at least one reported attack on education and many others go undocumented.
Subsequently, successive generations have been left without access to their basic rights and resources that will ensure they acquire the skills and knowledge crucial to their survival in the future.
Through the work of the UN General Assembly in collaboration with UNESCO and UNICEF, this day was established in a bid to raise awareness on the plight of millions who are unable to access inclusive and equitable education. It aims to reaffirm the responsibility we all share in protecting an investment in our future.
Significant strides have been made to mitigate the impact of conflict on education. Of note, is the Safe Schools Declaration which was implemented by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack.
As of May 2020, 104 states have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, which offers guidance to nation leaders that state and non-governmental organisations can implement to deter military use of educational institutions. While this is certainly a commendable initiative, this issue only earned consideration through the designation of this day, one year ago.
We shouldn’t be so blinded by our successes that we forget that there are goals we have yet to accomplish. We must work feverishly to completely eradicate the threat of violence to this social institution.
For the plight of the over 75 million children whose education continues to be threatened by violence and conflicts, we stress the importance of collaboration and cooperation between governmental and nongovernmental organizations to enable the staging of public awareness campaigns on the detrimental impact of conflicts on education.
Youths For Excellence realises the unique position that the Caribbean is in. Crime and violence has been identified as one of the most pressing concerns to the development of human capital across the region.
We lose out on the potential valuable contributions to society of young people when their lives are ended by crime.
Even without such a grave outcome as death, a child’s learning outcomes are adversely impacted by violence. How can a child sit down and study for PEP, CSEC, CAPE or any other examination in peace as gunshots ring out loud in front of his or her house? This is why we joined the United Nations Development Programme, along with 10 youth organisations under their Amplifying Youth Voice and Action Project, to host a Youth Summit on
Crime and Violence for World Peace Day, September 21 this year to hear some of the solutions that young people have for crime. This summit is open to students across the Caribbean region. Interested parties may register for the summit at www.readysetgreatja.com .
Youths For Excellence cannot in good conscience claim to tackle education inequity and not look at the elephant in the room that is crime and how it hinders academic achievement.
This is a message that we will be pushing across the seven Caribbean territories (Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad, Guyana, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) that we serve over the coming months and we are calling on young people to join us in shaping the Caribbean they want to live in.
Jénine Shepherd is Founder, Board Co-Chair and President of Youths For Excellence.