By Vatican News
As the world celebrates the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack on Wednesday, Pope Francis appealed to the international community to ensure educational structures are protected from attacks.
“I invite you to pray for students who are seriously deprived of the right to education due to war and terrorism,” he said during his weekly General Audience on Wednesday in the Vatican.
“I urge the international community to do its utmost so that the structures that must protect young students be respected,” he said, speaking in Italian. “May efforts that guarantee safe environments for their education not wain, above all in situations of humanitarian crises,” he added.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has also called for a safe environment for students. “As the world fights to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth in conflict zones remain among the most vulnerable to its devastating impact,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “We must ensure our children have a safe and secure environment in which to learn the knowledge and skills they need for the future,” he said.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also added its voice insisting, “schools must remain safe places, free of conflict and violence”. “Our collective future as well as the achievements of all development goals depend on it,” said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay. “Safeguarding the right to education for all,” she said, “contributes to the achievement of sustainable development and nurtures the international community’s decades-long gains towards peace, economic prosperity, and social inclusion worldwide.’’
According to the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, “Attacks on schools are a violation of humanity and basic decency. We must not allow these senseless attacks to destroy the hopes and dreams of a generation of children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We must do all in our power to ensure that schools and the children and teachers within them are protected,’’ she said. “As the world begins planning to re-open schools once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides,” she urged that “schools remain safe places of learning, even in countries in conflict”.