One common impact of conflict on education – which we noted in the 2011 Education for all Global Monitoring Report – is the tendency for armed groups to attack schools. Since the beginning of this year, the Islamist group Boko Haram has burned down at least 12 schools in northern Nigeria, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, leaving several thousand children without access to education. Schools are often targeted as symbols of state authority – especially when insurgents oppose the type of education promoted by governments, as is the case with Boko Haram, whose name means “Western learning is forbidden.”
Schools may be easy targets, but rebel groups who attack them now run the risk of being “named and shamed” by the United Nations (a measure that has proved to be effective in deterring other practices, such as recruiting child soldiers). In line with one of the major recommendations of the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, the UN Security Council last year adopted Resolution 1998, which recognizes attacks on schools as grave violations of human rights and adds them to the crimes for which government forces and armed militias can be named in the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict.