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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Stop bombing schools: a solidarity appeal to education organisations and trade unions



The brutal war being waged by the Syrian regime against its own people has placed schools and teachers in the front line.  The Assad regime and its Russian backers have been pursuing a tactic of forced displacement of civilian populations, attacking civilian infrastructure, particularly schools.

A Save the Children report on education in Syria published in September 2015 found that 3 million Syrian children were not in education, that 25% of Syria's schools had been damaged or destroyed, and that over four hundred teaching staff had been killed. The majority of the destruction is caused by aerial bombardment. School enrolment in rebel held Aleppo has fallen to 6% as a result of these attacks. Targeting schools has been taking place for years.

On 29th September 2013, a technical school in Raqqa was bombed, killing sixteen people, ten of them students.

On 30th April 2014 one of the worst massacres took place at Ein Jalout school in Aleppo. It was displaying an exhibition of students’ artwork when it was bombed, killing twenty students, two teachers, and another adult.



Aftermath of the 30 April 2014 bombing of Ein Jalout school in Aleppo.

Attacks continue despite multiple UN resolutions calling for a halt to all attacks on civilian targets.

On 12th April 2015 missiles were again fired at a school in Aleppo, killing 5 children and 4 civilians.

On 3rd May 2015 barrel bombs were dropped on a school where students were sitting exams, killing four children, a teacher, and two other adults.

Since the Russian intervention, attacks have increased in frequency. In the past week, four schools have been bombed, killing and injuring dozens. On January 10th a Russian airstrike targeted a school in the town on Ain Jara in Aleppo, killing twelve children and three adults.



Interview with a victim of the 10 January 2016 Ain Jara attack.

In response, the Education Directorate in Idlib has closed schools for a week, to try and prevent further loss of life due to the constant bombardment. This decision has deprived over 70,000 students of access to education. In the besieged suburb of Douma, education officials suspended school indefinitely in response to repeated cluster bomb attacks directed at schools.

These attacks violate international humanitarian law, and specifically violate UN Security Council Resolution 2139 which was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council in February 2014, and which demanded an end to all attacks against civilians, in particular an end to aerial bombardment of populated areas.

The regime and Russia must not be allowed to bombs schools and kill students and teachers with impunity. We are calling on all teaching and education organisations, and teacher unions, to condemn these attacks and send messages of solidarity to Syria’s teachers and students who are trying to maintain education services in the middle of the brutal conflict.

Please see the draft motion below.

Schools also need material support. The Syrian grassroots campaign group Kesh Malek (Checkmate) is running a programme to twin schools in Aleppo with schools in other countries. You can access information about the twinning programme through the following links:

Our Twin School Campaign

Introductory files for five schools in Aleppo

Kesh Malek English Language Website

Draft Motion
This association notes that Syrian children and school staff are being targeted in air attacks by the Assad dictatorship and its Russian backers, and that very many pupils and teachers have been murdered or maimed in the ongoing bombing.

A Save the Children report on education in Syria found 3 million Syrian children were not in education, 25% of Syria's schools had been damaged or destroyed, and over four hundred teaching staff had been killed. The majority of the destruction is caused by aerial bombardment. School enrolment in Aleppo has fallen to 6% as a result of these attacks.

More children are dying as they try to flee to safety as refugees and millions of Syrian children of school age are experiencing the most extreme forms of psychological trauma.

This association condemns the targeting of populated areas and the bombing of schools. We extend our solidarity to everyone working to provide a normal education to children in Syria, and to those students who are refusing to serve in Assad’s army or Daesh.

We encourage school union groups to establish direct links and send material support such as pens, books and other equipment to schools in Syria through organisations like Kesh Malek which supervises and monitors nine schools in the liberated areas of Aleppo City, providing 3,330 pupils with education.
Links

Education under attack in Syria, Save the Children, September 2015.

The Cost of War: Calculating the impact of the collapse of Syria’s education system on the country’s future, Save the Children, March 2015.

“When I Picture My Future, I See Nothing,” Human Rights Watch report on barriers to education for Syrian refugee children in Turkey, November 2015.


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