Press Release - Safe Schools Declaration
SUDAN: 29 NONGOVERNMENTAL, STATE AND NONSTATE ACTORS SIGN JOINT COMMITMENT TO IMPLEMENT SAFE SCHOOLS DECLARATION AND PROTECT LEARNING AND EDUCATION IN WEST DARFUR
On 31st October, in Geneina, West Darfur, twenty nine (29) local, national, and international nongovernmental and civil society groups, in addition to government duty bearers, state actors, and Juba Peace Agreement signatories, signed a commitment to implement the Safe Schools Declaration, in the presence of the Norwegian Ambassador and West Darfur state governor.
The commitment, in line with the Declaration, reaffirms that schools should only serve as a place for learning, free from violence or conflict. The commitment signed by the various governmental, non-governmental, civil society and armed group actors was the result of a two-day workshop, aiming to raise awareness about the Declaration and the responsibility by all relevant parties to protect education and children affected by conflict. All parties emphasized the importance of protecting children's education as a top priority, and that safe learning environments must be their given right.
The Safe Schools Declaration’s main objective is to ensure schools are safe zones for children and communities. It calls for the elimination of any forms of occupation of schools and learning facilities by any armed forces or groups at any point of time or for any purpose. The Declaration was spearheaded jointly by the Kingdom of Norway and Brazil in 2015 and was signed by the Government of Sudan the same year. So far, 115 governments have signed the declaration globally.
The impact of armed conflict on education and children presents urgent challenges to the humanitarian and developmental imperatives facing children and families in West Darfur. Students have the right to education in a safe environment, without which societies will be deprived of the foundations needed to build their future. The continuation of armed conflict and occupation of schools by state and non-state actors not only prevents education, but also the hopes and aspirations of entire generations of children.
This breakthrough was made possible with generous funding from the European Union and was organised by Save the Children in coordination with leading national and international non-governmental organizations Geneva Call, Global Aid Hand, International Aid Services, Norwegian Refugee Council, the Sudan Social Development Organization, and War Child, along with the Federal Ministries of Education and Social Development, the Government of West Darfur, and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway.
The national and international partners will continue to work with relevant state and non-state actors to prioritize the Safe Schools Declaration as a mechanism to protect education and learning in all parts of Sudan affected by conflict.