• 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

  • Sep 12, 2014
    The morning roll call will be a particularly morbid affair on the first day of school in Gaza this Sunday. Hundreds of students, killed in the recent fighting, will be forever marked absent.
  • Sep 11, 2014
    Three Israeli attacks that damaged Gaza schools housing displaced people caused numerous civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war.
  • Sep 9, 2014
    Yazidi refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan now sleep in classrooms, hallways, and the courtyards of facilities intended for children’s education. What happens when school starts?
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Aug 18, 2014
  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Jul 9, 2014
    It was an impressive, yet surprising, accomplishment. On July 12, 2011, with Germany’s then-Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle sitting in the president’s chair, the UN Security Council voted unanimously in support of a groundbreaking resolution that required the UN Secretary-General to report annually on armed forces that used schools for military purposes during times of war in contravention of the international laws of war.
  • Jul 1, 2014
    All parties implicated in a new United Nations’ report about abuses of children during armed conflict should call an immediate halt to these crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. The UN secretary-general’s annual report on children in armed conflict was released on July 1, 2014.
  • Jun 30, 2014
    The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) should immediately release the estimated 133 Kurdish boys it has held hostage in northern Syria for a month.
  • Jun 22, 2014
    Non-state armed groups in Syria have used children as young as 15 to fight in battles, sometimes recruiting them under the guise of offering education, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The groups have used children as young as 14 in support roles. Extremist Islamist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) have specifically recruited children through free schooling campaigns that include weapons training, and have given them dangerous tasks, including suicide bombing missions.