• Attacks on education occur around the world, both inside and outside of situations of armed conflict. In many regions, armed groups intentionally target schools, teachers, and students. These attacks violate the rights of the child: in addition to putting children at risk of injury or death, they can thwart students' chance to get an education. Attacks on schools, teachers, and students can cause children to drop out or go to school less often, force schools to cut their hours, and destroy school buildings and materials. In environments of violence and fear, the quality of children's education is severely diminished. Human Rights Watch defines "attacks on education" as encompassing the full range of violations that place children at risk and deny them access to education. This includes attacks on school infrastructure and on teachers and students; the occupation of schools by the police and military; harassment and threats against teachers, parents, and students; and the recruitment of children from schools to become soldiers.

  • A boy sits inside his now-destroyed former classroom in Aleppo, Syria.
    The Syrian government has interrogated students and carried out violent assaults on their protests and military attacks on schools. An interactive map shows the destruction of schools across the country.

Reports

Education and Conflict

  • May 21, 2015
  • May 12, 2015
    States should act to deter the military use of schools and universities, said the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) in a study released today. The use of schools and universities for military purposes during conflict by armed forces and non-state armed groups endangers students and their education.
  • May 6, 2015
    The Sudanese government’s persistent indiscriminate air attacks in the Nuba Mountains area of Southern Kordofan are killing and maiming children.
  • Apr 14, 2015
    “Even after I escaped from them and live far away from my village, I am still afraid,” a 17-year-old girl who escaped from Boko Haram last year told us in June. “I think of death many times.”
  • Apr 3, 2015
    The abominable attack on Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya requires a measured response by Kenyan security forces to bring to justice those responsible and prevent further attacks. At least 147 have been confirmed dead and 80 injured in the attack on April 2, 2015.
  • Mar 26, 2015
  • Mar 26, 2015
    Attacks by the Islamist armed group Boko Haram killed more than 1,000 civilians in 2015, based on witness accounts and an analysis of media reports. Boko Haram fighters have deliberately attacked villages and committed mass killings and abductions as their attacks have spread from northeast Nigeria into Cameroon, Chad, and Niger since February.
  • Mar 24, 2015
  • Mar 22, 2015
    Opposition armed groups in Syria have indiscriminately attacked civilians in government-held territory with car bombs, mortars, and rockets, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The attacks have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure in violation of the laws of war.
  • Mar 19, 2015
    Government and Russia-backed rebel forces repeatedly used cluster munitions in eastern Ukraine in January and February 2015, killing at least 13 civilians, including at least two children. The use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates the laws of war due to the weapon’s indiscriminate nature and may constitute a war crime.