ActionAid stands in solidarity with ActionAid Kenya in condemning the appalling attack on Garissa University College in north-eastern Kenya by Al-Shabaab militants which led to 148 deaths and many casualties. This attack targeted young innocent students aspiring to serve their communities and countries as teachers. It is a direct attack on the right to education.
Garissa University College attracted many students from marginalised communities, many of whom were given government subsidies or whose families would have sacrificed a lot to invest in their further education. Those who died would have played a crucial role in strengthening the public education system of Kenya in the future. Many who survived may be too disturbed to continue their studies or may need to be relocated. This latest attack is by far the most shocking in Kenya’s recent history but is not an entirely isolated incident. Last year, 20 teachers were killed in an attack on a bus in Mandera.
Shockingly Kenya is not alone. This is part of a disturbing pattern where the right to education is under attack around the world, with children and teachers increasingly becoming victims.
Today is the anniversary of the abduction of 276 girls from Chibok in Northern Nigeria, targeted for no reason other than their desire to learn. Over 800,000 children in Nigeria are estimated to have fled their homes in fear of a similar fate.
Indeed, during the past year there have been violent attacks on students and teachers in over 30 countries, including Syria, Mexico, Pakistan, Afghanistan and DRC. Most recently 10 people died yesterday in an assault on the Ministry of Education headquarters in Somalia.
Clement Kone, Country Director from DRC and co-Chair of ActionAid’s International Education Platform, commented:
In DRC we know that attacks on education are attacks on the essential foundation of development. ActionAid condemns the attack on innocent young people in Garissa and all attacks on education. Children have a right to learn in peace and teachers have a right to teach in peace.
In 50 countries where ActionAid is present we work to advance the right to education for the most excluded groups. Attacks on education like the one in Garissa set back the struggle for achievement of education for all. Every child has a right to learn in a safe and non-violent environment and every teacher has the right to a safe and non-violent workplace.
Today we need to stand together more than ever to defend and advance the right to education.