Safe Schools Initiative: Protecting the Right to Learn in Pakistan
Since the 1970s, Pakistan has experienced more attacks on education than any other country in the world. In the past five years alone, more than 1,000 schools have been destroyed in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which includes Peshawar, where the deadliest attack took place in December. During an eight-hour shooting spree, more than 130 children and nine teachers were massacred by Taliban gunmen.
In response, A World at School – in collaboration with the Global Business Coalition for Education – released Safe Schools Initiative: Protecting the Right to Learn in Pakistan, a 15-point best practices plan for Safe Schools in Pakistan. Built on global experience and expertise and designed to ensure schools are safe, the plan is intended to complement and support government activities and school and community-based interventions for Safe Schools alongside support from the international community.
The report follows an agreement between UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to work together on a joint effort for the security and safety of school children. The plan will be accompanied by an appeal to leading companies in Pakistan through GBC-Education’s Pakistan Working Group, donor governments and foundations to finance the initiative.
Prime Minister Sharif said: “The recent tragedy at Army Public School Peshawar in Pakistan has yet again brought into focus one of the many manifestations of terror. The ruthless and inhuman murder of 146 school children and teachers also indicates the variety of challenges that we confront as we strive to bring safety to our children at schools. The safe school initiative of Gordon Brown is perhaps the first targeted program which will go a long way in helping us to achieve this target.”
The plan includes:
– Community engagement to establish peace zones in and around schools
– Negotiations with religious leaders to promote education
– Establishing a community watch system
– Individual security plans for every school
– Setting up of rapid response units
– Installing state-of-the-art communication systems
– Creating special plans for schools in high-risk areas
Prime Minister Sharif said yesterday: “I am personally committed to make this initiative a success.”
UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said: “One answer that helps educational institutions to stand up to terrorist violence and counter it is to designate our schools as safe schools and make them more secure. It is only by taking measures such as those in the 15-point plan that we will reassure parents and pupils that everything is being done to counter extremist threats.”
In Nigeria, the first Safe Schools Initiative was launched following the kidnapping of 276 Chibok schoolgirls. GBC-Education business leaders – alongside the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, A World at School and the Nigerian government – leveraged $30 million from business, the Nigerian government and international donors resulting in a government initiative and a United Nations multi-donor trust fund for Safe Schools. In the first phase of activities, Safe Schools interventions are now in place in many schools and 2,400 of the most at-risk students from three states hit hardest by Boko Haram’s terrorist activities have been enrolled in safer schools.
Photo © DFID