WORLD EDUCATION REPORT 2023

At Broken Chalk, we believe that education is not just a privilege, but a fundamental right for every person on this planet. That is why our team of dedicated individuals has poured their hearts and souls into creating the World Education Report 2023.


Each team member contributed with several reports. We aimed to focus on critical key topics concerning education, such as access to quality education; school infrastructure; discrimination in the educational system; teachers’ working conditions, and education in conflict settings. Each team member brought their own unique expertise and perspective, ensuring a well-rounded and comprehensive examination of the state of education worldwide.


We drew on a vast variety of sources concerning education in different countries to realize this report and ensure a comprehensive overview of the state of education in
2023, worldwide. This report, therefore, provides an important basis to ensure further developments within countries’ educational systems.


We did this report to further promote the goals of Broken Chalk. Broken Chalk is a non-profit organization devoted to addressing human rights violations in the educational sector. Broken Chalk advocates on behalf of educational victims. The interns working for Broken Chalk prepare comprehensive reports for international organizations, stakeholders, and governments to highlight human rights violations in education.


As you dive into the World Education Report 2023, we invite you to join us on this journey. Together, let’s rewrite the narrative of education—empowering individuals, eradicating inequality, and creating a brighter, more equitable future for all.

Download the full report!

Broken Chalk calls for recognition of the importance of access to education in the mother language

Written by Luzi Maj Leonhardt, Dooyum Stephanie Tseke, Sara Rossomonte

Today, on the International Day of the Mother Language, the acknowledgement and advancement of the mother language in education, and social and cultural development are inevitable.  

International Mother Language Day was first introduced by the UNESCO initiative of Bangladesh, at the 1999 General Conference. Since then, it was established by the UN General Assembly, and its importance was formalized as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

However, limitations in access to education in the mother language remain, as approximately 40% of the global population lacks this fundamental right. In some regions, these numbers even go up to 90% of the population, according to the UN.  Access to education in the student’s mother language fosters an inclusive learning environment, which welcomes indigenous and minority groups and leads to better learning outcomes, especially in the early stages of education.  Broken Chalk recognises the need to address the issue of a lack of native language representation in education in many countries worldwide. Especially the educational sector in countries with a colonial or foreign administrative past continues to be strongly influenced by their language of instruction.  Broken Chalks strongly supports the creation of accessible and high-quality educational materials in the native languages of various countries.

The importance of mother language in education cannot be overstated. In most sub-Saharan African countries, approximately 85% of students receive instruction in a language other than their native tongue (UNESCO, 2017). Nigeria, a nation with over 600 different languages, solely employs English as the language of instruction in primary schools, prohibiting the use of local languages that are deemed informal.

Similarly, many Asian societies, formerly under colonial rule, such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Indonesia, only began actively promoting their national languages after World War II. In Sri Lanka, Tamil was officially recognised as an official language in 1978, yet English has become the predominant language in recent years.

The absence of mother tongue instruction in education leads to knowledge gaps, particularly at the primary and secondary levels, hindering effective learning and exacerbating inequality and discrimination against diverse cultures, resulting in low student enrolment rates. Broken Chalk calls for urgent investments to lower the educational gaps of children with speak in their mother language.

Ethiopian schools have introduced instruction in students’ native tongues, resulting in significant improvements, including a half-year increase in education attainment and a 40% rise in the likelihood of students reading complete sentences (Rajesh, 2017). Similarly, the Bolivian Campaign for the Right to Education (CBDE) advocates for inclusive educational approaches, particularly for the indigenous population. Broken Chalk believes that education is crucial to working towards the elimination of discrimination against indigenous populations.

Children benefit from embracing both their own and others’ cultural identities while using the same language, as exemplified in Zimbabwe, where the government has prioritised mother tongue education. However, challenges persist globally, including inadequate funding for minority language education, lack of standardised teaching materials, and qualified teachers for indigenous languages. Colonial language policies contribute to linguistic inequality and marginalisation, necessitating governments and educational institutions to prioritise mother languages in curriculum development and teacher training programs. Funding is essential to preserve endangered languages and promote multilingualism through bilingual education initiatives. Broken Chalk calls for the allocation of more funding to promote multilingualism in education.

At Broken Chalk,celebrating World Mother Language Day reaffirms our commitment to cultural diversity and acknowledges the value and heritage of all languages. In addition to efforts being made globally, Broken Chalk will continue to publish articles in different languages to encourage and advocate for Cultural and Language Diversity.

Broken Chalk announces it to the public with due respect. 

Signed, 

Broken Chalk 

Red Hand Day Marks Urgent Call to End the Use of Child Soldiers

As the world observes an increase in conflicts across the globe, the use of child soldiers remains a reality on this day February 12. From the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and in the Gaza Strip, to the escalating violence following Afghanistan’s political upheaval after Taliban’s takeover, the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic further destabilise regions like Yemen, amplifying the risk of conflict. In Somalia, conflict-related deaths have reached a five-year high, while many other countries struggle with prolonged crises that are frequently disregarded by the international community. Amidst this turmoil, the most vulnerable suffer the gravest injustices. Boys and girls are coerced into combat, exploited for labour, and subjected to unimaginable horrors. Despite a UN treaty prohibiting the involvement of children under 18 in hostilities, there has been a lack of enforcement from the international community.

Children continue to be embroiled in armed conflicts across numerous nations. Their lives are characterised by peril, deprivation, and fear. Stripped of their innocence, they face the constant threat of ambushes, landmines, and gunfire, their existence devoid of basic necessities like food, water, and healthcare. Subjected to brutal discipline, many children perish under inhumane conditions, while others survive with lifelong physical or psychological scars, with girls, comprising a significant portion of child soldiers, endure additional horrors, including sexual violence and exploitation. The reality is that children are robbed of their childhoods, and forced into roles no child should ever have to bear.

Hence, the Red Hand Day, or the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers campaign is a rallying call for action: urging governments, organisations, individuals, and the international community to confront this reality and provoke change. The history of Red Hand Day traces back to February 12, 2002, when the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict came into force. This protocol, also known as the “Paris Principles,” reaffirmed the international community’s stance against the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicti. The protocol established 18 as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment and participation in hostilities, with the aim of shielding children from the horrors of war and ensuring their access to education, health, and a safe environmentii.


Release of child soldiers. UNMISS/Nektarios Markogiannis. On Flickr.

At Broken Chalk, we stand in solidarity with the global community on Red Hand Day. We believe that every child, regardless of their circumstances, deserves equal access to quality education in a safe environment. Red Hand Day serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by more than 7622 children who are recruited as soldiers and deprived of their fundamental right to education (as estimated in a 2022 Annual Reportiii of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to the UN General Assembly).

As we commemorate Red Hand Day, Broken Chalk is committed to advocating for policies and initiatives that prioritise the end of recruitment and use of children in armed conflict to fully implement the Paris Commitment. Moreover, we advocate for the protection, safety, financial support, peaceful education, reintegration, and support of children affected by armed conflict, ensuring that they can learn, grow, and thrive. Nevertheless, more actions need to be taken to hold accountable those who are responsible, in compliance with international humanitarian law, specifically the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Together, we can work towards a world where the red hands of child soldiers are replaced with books and pens, symbolising hope, resilience, and the promise of a brighter future.

Broken Chalk announces it to the public with due respect.

Signed,

Broken Chalk


i Human Rights Watch (n.d.). The Red Hand Day Campaign One million red hands against the use of child soldiers RESOURCE PACK. Available at https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/related_material/childsoldierresource.pdf

ii Red Hand Day: The suffering of the child soldiers. Red Hand Day. Available at https://www.redhandday.org/en/hintergrund

iii Children and armed conflict (2023, June 27). Report of the Secretary-General. Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. Available at https://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/document/secretary-general-annual-report-on-children-and-armed-conflict-2/

Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 1st and 31st of October, 2023

Broken Chalk proudly presents a new edition of “Education Monitor: Around the Globe” between the 1st and 31st of October, 2023. Broken Chalk aims with this letter to increase public awareness of  Educational problems, challenges, and violations in the scope of the world. This newsletter is unique. This is a weekly newsletter in which we attempt to monitor and convey educational news from around the world in a concise manner. This monitor will be published biweekly with the effort of our young and enthusiastic team.

You can contribute to our work if you like. If you witness any violations in the scope of education, you can write the comment part of this post. Broken Chalk will try to address the issue in its next monitor edition.

Education-Monitor_Oct-1-31

To Download it as PDF: Follow this link.

Broken Chalk Platform, in March 2019, was founded by a group of educators abroad who experienced and have been experiencing severe human rights violations in Turkey and had to ask for asylum currently in several countries.

These education volunteers also suffered greatly and started their new lives in their new countries without human rights violations. They gained respect just because they were considered human beings in those countries. However, they left one part of their minds and hearts in their homeland. They assigned themselves a new duty, and the human rights violations they left behind had to be announced to the World. A group of education volunteers who came together for this purpose started their activities under the Broken Chalk platform’s umbrella. However, the Broken Chalk platform was not enough to serve their aims. Therefore, they completed their official establishment as a Human Rights Foundation in October 2020.

Broken Chalk is now much more than a platform, and we have reviewed and enlarged our vision and mission within this framework. Violations of rights would be the first in our agenda in the field of Education all over the World. At the point we reached today, Broken Chalk opened its door to all individuals from all across the globe, from all professions, and to all individuals who say or can say ‘I also want to stand against violations of human rights in Education for our future and whole humanity, where our generations grow up together.’

Education is essential because it can help us eliminate the evils from society, introduce, and increase the good. We want to draw the public’s and stakeholders’ attention to the fact that Education is in danger in several different parts of the World. The attacks are wide-reaching, from the bombing of schools to the murder of students and teachers. Raping and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced recruitment also occurred, instigated by armed groups. Attacks on Education harm the students and teachers but also affect the communities in the short and long term.

We invite all individuals who want to stop human rights violations in Education to become Volunteers at Broken Chalk.

Press Release: International Day for Education

Children in classroom with food

On the 24th of January, the world celebrates the importance of education for peace and development with the International Day of Education. In light of this celebration, Broken Chalk reiterates the importance of education as a human right, and reaffirms its mission to address human rights violations in the educational field today. 

UNESCO has declared the theme for this year ”Learning for Lasting Peace” and is dedicating this year’s International Day of Education to the crucial role education and teachers play in countering hate speech. Education is a powerful tool that has the potential to influence future societies. If inclusive and of quality, it promotes understanding, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence among individuals and communities.

Today, a staggering 250 million children and youth find themselves out of school, while 763 million adults grapple with illiteracy. Access to education is highly unequal, meaning not every child has the same opportunity for development. Broken Chalk deems this situation unacceptable, recognizing that the right to education is being violated on a massive scale.

Broken Chalk reiterates its commitment towards Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG4), in ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education. Considering the theme of International Day of Education 2024, “Learning for Lasting Peace”, Broken Chalk recognises that the worryingly high number of international conflicts in the last year has detrimentally affected the ability of people to access equitable and quality education. Broken Chalk calls for all stakeholders to do their utmost to focus on peaceful resolutions and policies in order to allow for greater educational accessibility and peace for students around the world.

On this International Day of Education, it is essential to recognise the importance of teachers for their role in the journey towards inclusive and equitable education. Regrettably, there is a growing shortage of teachers across the world, significantly impacting educational access and quality. Broken Chalk commits to continuing its practice of publishing “Educational Challenges” articles. Broken Chalk hopes that these articles will bring to light the difficulties teachers and other stakeholders face in their respective countries. By ensuring that the narrative around education development is broadened to include the perspectives and challenges of teachers, Broken Chalk believes that there will be more significant progress towards achieving universal education accessibility, quality and equity.

In addition to its ongoing efforts, Broken Chalk will publish several articles in celebration of the International Day of Education. Broken Chalk will continue to raise awareness, encourage dialogue, address human rights violations in education, and drive action to achieve quality education for all. 

Broken Chalk announces it to the public with due respect.

Signed,

Broken Chalk

Educational Challenges in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Written by Aoibhínn Kiely

The U.S. Virgin Islands are situated in the Caribbean Sea, located some 64 to 80 kilometres east of Puerto Rico. The region consists of three larger islands, St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, and approximately 50 smaller cays and islets, amassing a total area of 133 square miles. Due to the inviting climate, the U.S. Virgin Islands attracts a large number of tourists each year, however tourism is one of the region’s only economic resources, and financial aid and funding is provided by the United States.

The region is at risk for hurricanes, with an average of 5 passing the region yearly, and in September of 2017 the territory sustained extreme damage from a barrage of two Category 5 hurricanes within the span of two weeks. Irma and Maria together destroyed virtually all crops of St Croix and an estimated 90% of buildings in the territory were destroyed or severely damaged.

Education in the U.S. Virgin Islands is compulsory and government-run schools operate for free. The Virgin Islands Department of Education runs 21 elementary schools, six middle schools and six high schools between two school districts spread between the three main islands. The territory also sports one university, The University of the Virgin Islands, a public liberal arts based university. 

However, a great number of students attend private schools, and most of the families who relocate to the U.S. Virgin Islands opt to send their children to private or religious affiliated schools, who also charge a tuition fee. Educational challenges in the U.S. Virgin Islands are characterised by poor funding, staff shortages, and struggling infrastructure, causing huge barriers to adequate education for the working class population of the islands.

Unsafe working (and learning) conditions

The vast majority of those who relocate to the U.S. Virgin Islands will decide to send their children to a private school to receive their education. With the Peter Gruber International Academy, situated on St. Thomas, requiring annual tuition ranging from $13,150 to $21,000 excluding materials and accreditation fees, it is starkly obvious that this option is not for everyone. However, given the state of current affairs in public schools, there is no doubt as to why parents would go out of pocket to avoid their children attending the region’s public schools.

In September 2023, teachers across St. Croix walked out of their classrooms in protest, claiming that the conditions they are expected to work in are untenable and entirely unsafe. The protesting teachers mention not only the long-standing issues of underfunding for the schools, but also sweltering temperatures that have to be endured in classrooms, many of which have no clean drinking water. This region, famous for its balmy temperatures, has schools operating without air conditioning. The response to this protest has been to implement schedule adjustments, enforcing earlier dismissal and shortened class periods for the schools on St. Croix. In effect, poor funding has caused policy makers to opt for less schooling hours as opposed to providing adequate equipment to the schools.

Teachers are not the only individuals enraged by these conditions, as students took to the streets in protest of the unsafe conditions they are expected to learn and grow under. Students from two historically rivalling highschools put their differences aside as they called for immediate action from leaders. Devastating heat and lack of air conditioning were only the tip of the iceberg for these students, as placards being held high mentioned termites, mould, leaking ceilings, and other structural ailments concerned with the physical school buildings. Further prompting the action was the stark lack of funding for equipment and maintenance workers.

School facilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands have sustained damage not only from the hurricanes in 2017, but also many in the 90s and less severe instances in 2021 and 2022. As a result the infrastructure must constantly be repaired and seen to, which these students believe is not being upheld on the side of maintenance due to exceedingly poor funding. One of the schools in which the students came from, Educational Complex High School, is used as a hurricane shelter, which the students reiterated, poor maintenance is not only an educational disadvantage but a genuine health and safety hazard for those living on the island. The students stood in unison demanding answers to where the large budgets dedicated to the Department of Education have been going, and hoping together that their action will spare future students on St. Croix from the conditions they have to currently endure.

Where have all the teachers gone?

Dr. Dionne Wells-Hedrington, commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Education cannot stress enough the risk that classrooms will not be filled when the 2023/2024 school year begins. With learning deficiencies in the region presenting themselves as a challenge at present, the 127 teachers reaching retirement age represent a looming loss to the educational system on the islands and a concerning prospect for the students.

The school year 2022/2023 saw 33 teachers separate themselves from the department, expanding the 43 pre-existing teaching vacancies in the region. The strategy being employed by the department in an attempt to tackle this growing issue that has been used for years, to try to recruit teachers from outside the territory to fill the gaps. The Department has been driven to launch a special appeal to recruit degree holders and retired teachers to fill substitute teacher positions.

The situation remains dire however with Wells-Hedrington informing lawmakers last year that nearly 200 teachers and support staff retired or resigned from the already struggling public school education system between June 2022 and August 2022. Furthermore, the number of non-certified professionals working in the public schools on the Islands far outnumber those certified, with only 228 certified professionals in comparison to 610 non-certified professionals.  Emmanuella Perez-Cassius, the Board of Educations Vice Chairwoman, is adamant that educators need to receive higher pay, consistent curriculum mandates and better working conditions.

A storm of mental distress

The Board of Educations Vice Chairwoman further remarked that schools are sorely lacking formal trauma and mental health alert systems for children who need aid with serious issues. The Islands align with national data, indicating that children in America are in the midst of a mental health crisis. St. Croix Foundation reported in 2021 that 22.5% of middle schoolers had “seriously considered suicide” and 33.5% of high school students “felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks that they stopped doing some usual activities”. As this data was collected in the aftermath of the aforementioned hurricanes, it was seen as a cry for help and a call to action for the community of the Islands, with special emphasis on the education system to support children struggling in the region.

In July 2023 Perez-Cassius made it clear that schools are not up to date with critical information that can protect children from a mental health crisis. As a result she called for direct and ongoing communication between the Department of Education and Department of Health, as well as other organisations concerning treatments, school services, and awareness for students with escalating mental health concerns.

The Vice Chairwoman additionally called for the implementation of training on trauma based interventions and approaches. Studies have suggested that students on the islands experience PTSD at a significantly higher level than the general population, and a lack of intervention from the education system is an unfortunate shortfall that devastatingly lets students, and teachers alike, down.

Leadership for change

Although there is no absence of challenges faced by those pursuing education through the system in the U.S. Virgin Islands, these very individuals have shown resilience and perseverance time and time again in the face of challenges. The bravery of the protesting teachers and the voices of strong leaders such as Perez-Cassius and Dr.  Wells-Hedrington are not going unseen and unheard as attention is being drawn to these areas of concern.

Furthermore, the children in the region have stepped up and shown that they will no longer allow for unsafe conditions to be tolerated. These students have shown responsibility and dedication in a way that no child should ever have to. Their passion and drive through their protests and their demands of lawmakers have made waves in their communities and it will be impossible for those in power to ignore their rightly placed rage.  After the terror of Irma and Maria the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands have worked hard to rebuild themselves and their education system, demonstrations of strength that will stand to the region with any hope.

References

Cover Image by MChe Lee via Unsplash

Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 16th and 30th of September, 2023

Broken Chalk proudly presents the 13th edition of “Education Monitor: Around the Globe” between the 16th and 30th of September, 2023. Broken Chalk aims with this letter to increase public awareness of  Educational problems, challenges, and violations in the scope of the world. This newsletter is unique. This is a weekly newsletter in which we attempt to monitor and convey educational news from around the world in a concise manner. This monitor will be published biweekly with the effort of our young and enthusiastic team.

You can contribute to our work if you like. If you witness any violations in the scope of education, you can write the comment part of this post. Broken Chalk will try to address the issue in its next monitor edition.

To Download it as pdf : Education Monitor: Around The Globe between 16th and 30th of September, 2023

Broken Chalk Platform, in March 2019, was founded by a group of educators abroad who experienced and have been experiencing severe human rights violations in Turkey and had to ask for asylum currently in several countries.

These education volunteers also suffered greatly and started their new lives in their new countries without human rights violations. They gained respect just because they were considered human beings in those countries. However, they left one part of their minds and hearts in their homeland. They assigned themselves a new duty, and the human rights violations they left behind had to be announced to the World. A group of education volunteers who came together for this purpose started their activities under the Broken Chalk platform’s umbrella. However, the Broken Chalk platform was not enough to serve their aims. Therefore, they completed their official establishment as a Human Rights Foundation in October 2020.

Broken Chalk is now much more than a platform, and we have reviewed and enlarged our vision and mission within this framework. Violations of rights would be the first in our agenda in the field of Education all over the World. At the point we reached today, Broken Chalk opened its door to all individuals from all across the globe, from all professions, and to all individuals who say or can say ‘I also want to stand against violations of human rights in Education for our future and whole humanity, where our generations grow up together.’

Education is essential because it can help us eliminate the evils from society, introduce, and increase the good. We want to draw the public’s and stakeholders’ attention to the fact that Education is in danger in several different parts of the World. The attacks are wide-reaching, from the bombing of schools to the murder of students and teachers. Raping and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced recruitment also occurred, instigated by armed groups. Attacks on Education harm the students and teachers but also affect the communities in the short and long term.

We invite all individuals who want to stop human rights violations in Education to become Volunteers at Broken Chalk.

World Children’s Day 2023

In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls contends that political institutions should prioritise the rights of the most vulnerable in society. World Children’s Day, first established in 1954, affirms that priority. It affirms children’s rights to engage in discourses which influence their communities. It allows parents, teachers, community leaders, and young adults to consider what they can do to improve the lives of young(er) people around them. In this way, World Children’s Day is an excellent moment for reflecting upon the state of children worldwide–and for taking action to change it. In this press release, Broken Chalk reports on human rights abuses against children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo

As of June 2023, 2,420 children had been killed, maimed, abducted and sexually violated in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Save The Children, 2023). These atrocities emerged from the ongoing political conflict between M23, the government, and paramilitary groups. The collapse of government infrastructure makes Congo’s population–which has a median age of 16–extremely vulnerable to abduction, induction into military groups, sexual violence, and death. The prevalence of ‘street children’, as locals call them, throughout Congo captures a central dimension of human rights violations against children in Congo.

Street Children

Rape and sexual violence are standard methods of warfare employed by Congolese paramilitary groups. The victims often face immense shame from their communities (Humanium, 2020). In many cases, these rapes result in unwanted pregnancies. To distance themselves from these traumatic events–and social shame– women will often abandon their children. As a result, these abandoned children are forced to live on the streets/forests with other orphans (Humanium, 2020). Once in these groups, they are confronted with a new social hierarchy: competition with older (sexually exploitative/exploited) children, gangs, and insurgent groups. In addition to these grave circumstances, they are often used for cheap child labour (Humanium, 2020). Children are ‘saved’ from the chaos of the streets by armed groups, where they are trained as soldiers. In turn, the children are taught to reproduce the cycle of violence and exploitation which constrained them. 

Child Soldiers

According to Relief Web (2023), “The DRC had the highest number of child abductions globally”, sometimes as young as five years old. In 2023, 730 children were kidnapped from their homes (Save The Children, 2023). Furthermore, 1,600 children have been recruited by armed groups (France24, 2023). Child soldiers are subject to a tragic nexus of sexual and physical abuse. The infamous practice of holding children as “fetish keepers” is particularly appalling. Confident children are recruited because they believe they possess magic powers (Humanium, 2020). The recruits undergo a ceremonial abdominal cut. Those who survive this trial are put on the front lines of combat due to their apparent powers (Save The Children, 2023). 

A report by the International Peace Support Training Center (IPSTC) found that over 90% of child soldiers had witnessed extreme violence and murder (IPSTC, 2013, p.8). Furthermore, approximately ⅓ of child soldiers have experienced sexual abuse, while almost 80% have been maimed (IPSTC, 2013, p.8). In the wake of these facts, the government has committed to preventing child recruitment into military forces  (United Nations, 2017). For example, in 2013, 30,000 child soldiers were freed from the armed forces (ICC, 2013, p.2). Nevertheless, re-recruitment into these forces remains a serious issue. 

Education

The DRC has committed to securing free primary education for its citizens, allowing over 4.5 million children to attend school (U.S. Agency for International Development, n.d.). So far, it has produced a literacy rate of 80 % (89.5% males and 70.8% females) (Central Intelligence Agency, 2023). In 2015, the IRC, Global TIES for Children, and the DRC government jointly pursued four goals: (1) teacher training, (2) community mobilisation, (3) vocational training, and (4) professional development (rescue, 2015). By 2016, students’ reading, geometry, and numeracy scores had increased (New York University & International Rescue Committee, 2015). However, poverty and warfare continue to strain the DRC’s education system. 

The DRC’s commitment to free primary education eventually collapsed because of insufficient funding. The program depended on parents’ income, which could not support teachers’ salaries (usaid.gov). In turn, military conflict has forced millions of children to flee their homes–and schools.

Ukraine

On February 24th 2022, Russia started its invasion of Ukraine. Since then, over 3,000 schools have been destroyed, 7 million children have been displaced, 9,701 civilians have been killed, and 17,748 have been injured (United Nations, 2023). Russia’s relentless airstrikes and on-ground military operations constitute numerous human rights violations. According to a report published by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry in Ukraine, these violations include “unlawful attacks with explosive weapons…torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and transfers and deportations of children” (IICIU, 2023). Children in Ukraine face a unique set of human rights violations of the Convention on The Rights of The Child (CRC).

Education

The Ukrainian constitution affirms that “everyone has the right to education” (Human et al., 2023, p.58). Ukraine further recognises education as a human right, providing that “…international humanitarian law envisages [that]:… the right of children to receive an education shall be guaranteed” (Human et al., 2023, p.58). However, Russian forces have eroded (at best) and wholly decimated (at worst) Ukraine’s educational infrastructure. 

There are reports of Russian military forces using schools as military infrastructure.  In “Tanks on The Playground”, Human Rights Watch found that the Russian troops had commandeered a school in Izium. Eventually, a fire-fight between the Russian and Ukrainian military caused a fire which burned it down. There have also been reports of Russian forces stealing supplies from and hanging swastika insignias within schools. Online education has also been attempted–even though Russian attacks on power generators have severely restricted internet access. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian Ministry of Education reports that +95% of students were enrolled in schools (Human et al., 2023b).

Trafficking 

The mass displacement of Ukrainian children has also increased the prevalence of human trafficking. Traffickers take advantage of and foment chaos at the borders, where children become separated from family members and are ultimately abducted (Siegfried, 2022). Traffickers include private and public bodies. The Yale School of Public Health found that Russian forces were abducting children and sending them to re-education camps (Viswanathan, 2023). Putin claims these transfers were conducted legally and saved their lives (Dickinson, 2023). Ukrainian officials have identified close to 20,000 victims, spread across Russia’s 40 camps, located from Crimea to Siberia. 

Palestine – Education amidst suffering, fear and occupation

 The recent events unfolding in Palestine have brought everything to a halt. Since the beginning of the occupation, Palestinian citizens have experienced numerous forms of suffering at the hands of Israeli authorities. Nevertheless, the current conflict has not only aggravated the fear and pain of Palestinian men and women but also prevented the proper development of future Palestinian generations.

  Education represents a significant element of Palestinian society. According to UNICEF, 95.4% of Palestinian children have been enrolled in primary education. However, the statistics fail to tackle an ongoing challenge: school access. While the enrollment percentage presents a chance for a bright future for Palestinian children, the reality on the ground seems different. Vulnerable categories such as adolescent children with disabilities are more likely to drop out of school, with  22.5% of boys and 30% of girls with disabilities aged 6-15 never even enrolling in schools (UNICEF, 2018). 

  Moreover, due to the ongoing tensions in the Palestinian territories, half a million children are in dire need of humanitarian assistance to access quality education. The volatile environment and repetitive violent episodes of escalation around the West Bank and Gaza Strip, alongside restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities, pose further threats and challenges to the protection of children’s rights within the Palestinian Territories. Furthermore, the violations of children’s rights in Palestine not only sabotage the ability of children to learn and develop their potential but also enhance mental health issues, with fear, distress and intimidation impacting their everyday lives (OCHA, 2017).

 While statistics bring an unparalleled contribution to the situation on the ground, they nevertheless fail to tackle the experiences of Palestinian children and citizens. In a recent article published by Al Jazeera, Ruwaida Amer, a science teacher at a local school in Gaza, describes the war’s impact on her everyday life.  “For me, it is an almost maternal relationship between me and my students, and it extends beyond schoolwork”, she recalls.  Since the government announced the suspension of the 2023-2024 school year, she has been unable to meet her students. She thoughtfully describes how her teaching career developed into something more than a teacher-student relationship. “They have this knack for making me laugh even when I am annoyed at their naughtiness – I cannot keep a straight face”, she fondly remembers. However, with the brink of the Israeli offensive within the territories of Palestine, the situation has changed. Now, all the beautiful experiences that she had with them are but mere memories. “I miss their morning sleepiness. I miss their naughtiness.  I miss hearing them shout “Miss!” when I greet them. I want this war to stop so I can go back to getting to know them.” (Amer et al., 2023)


References 

Central Intelligence Agency. (2023). Congo, Democratic Republic of the – The World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/congo-democratic-republic-of-the/#people-and-society

Dickinson, P. D. (2023, July 27). Russia’s mass abduction of Ukrainian children may qualify as genocide. Atlantic Council. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/russias-mass-abduction-of-ukrainian-children-may-qualify-as-genocide/

Education | Democratic Republic of the Congo | U.S. Agency for International Development. U.S. Agency For International Development. (n.d.-b). Education | Democratic Republic of the Congo | U.S. Agency for International Development. https://www.usaid.gov/democratic-republic-congo/education#:~:text=Free%20primary%20education%20is%20becoming,of%20teachers%20tended%20to%20decrease.

France24. (2023, September 8). Violence makes eastern DR Congo “worst place” for children : 

UN. France 24. https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20230908-violence-makes-eastern-dr-congo-worst-place-for-children-un

Human Rights Watch. (2023). “Tanks on the Playground” Attacks on Schools and Military Use of Schools in Ukraine.

Human Rights Watch. (2023b, November 9). Ukraine: War’s Toll on Schools, Children’s Future. Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/11/09/ukraine-wars-toll-schools-childrens-future#:~:text=Russia%27s%20full%2Dscale%20invasion%20of,are%20attacks%20on%20their%20future

Independent International Commission of Inquiry in Ukraine. (2023). Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine. OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/hrbodies/hrcouncil/coiukraine/A_HRC_52_62_AUV_EN.pdf

IPSTC. (2013). Reintegration of Child Soldiers in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. International Criminal Court.

New York University & International Rescue Committee. (2015). Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education (OPEQ): Final Report on the Impact of the OPEQ Intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo. https://www.rescue.org/sites/default/files/document/642/ed-opportunitiesforequitableaccesstoqualitybasiceducation.pdf

Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education (OPEQ): Final report on the impact of the OPEQ intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (2015). rescue.org.https://www.rescue.org/report/opportunities-equitable-access-quality-basic-education-opeq-final-report-impact-opeq

Prashad, J. P. (2020, May 19). Children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – Humanium. Humanium. https://www.humanium.org/en/democratic-republic-congo/

Save The Children. (2023, June 27). DRC remains the epicentre of a child suffering in war as the country tops the world list of grave violations against children – the Democratic Republic of the Congo. ReliefWeb.  

Siegried, K. S. (2022, April 13). Ukraine crisis creates new trafficking risks. UNHCR. https://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/ukraine-crisis-creates-new-trafficking-risks

United Nations. (2023, September 24). Ukraine: Civilian Casualty Update 24 September 2023. ohchr.org. https://www.ohchr.org/en/news/2023/09/ukraine-civilian-casualty-update-24-september-2023#:~:text=From%2024%20February%202022%2C%20which,9%2C701%20killed%20and%2017%2C748%20injured.

United Nations. (2017). Grave Violations. childrenandarmedconflict.un.org. https://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/where-we-work/democratic-republic-of-the-congo/

N/D. “State of Palestine:  Out-of-school children”. UNICEF. 2018. Date of access: 18.11.2023 https://www.unicef.org/mena/reports/state-palestine-out-school-children

N/D. “Occupied Palestinian Territory: Humanitarian Needs Overview 2018, November 2017”. OCHA. 2017. Date of access: 18.11.2023 https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/occupied-palestinian-territory-humanitarian-needs-overview-2

Amer. Ruwaida. “In this relentless war, oh, how I miss my students”. Al Jazeera. 2023. Date of access: 18.11.2023

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/11/12/in-this-relentless-war-oh-how-i-miss-my-students

Viswanathan, G. V. (2023, February 22). YSPH research reveals relocation and re-education of Ukrainian children – Yale Daily News. Yale Daily News. https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2023/02/22/ysph-research-reveals-relocation-and-re-education-of-ukrainian-children/

International Migrants Day

18th December 2023

The United Nations (UN) estimates that 281 million people live outside their country of origin, 15% of whom are children. Individuals have always moved in search of new, better life opportunities. On International Migrants Day, Broken Chalk celebrates migration as humanity’s inherent and fundamental characteristic. Education is both a powerful tool for integration into host societies and a driver for migration, with families migrating to seek better educational opportunities for their children and thousands of young people migrating annually to pursue university degrees.

In situations of displacement, children and young people often experience difficulties accessing education, especially if they have an uncertain legal status. Schools are often compelled by migration authorities to detect, detain and deport undocumented migrant children and their families. Schools might also refuse to enrol migrants. However, the legal principle of non-discrimination establishes that all persons residing in the territory of a state, regardless of their legal status, must be guaranteed access to education. Broken Chalk calls for respect for the principle of non-discrimination to the right to education, regardless of a person’s legal status.

Denial of access to education, discrimination, or bullying is often a reflection of xenophobic and racist attitudes in the host country. Education must be recognised as a powerful driver for social cohesion, where children from diverse backgrounds coexist from an early age. Moreover, schools must address discrimination and bullying towards foreigners, and policies must ensure equal access to opportunities. In addition to this, migrant teachers should have their qualifications recognised so they can actively use their first language to help newcomers integrate. For instance, the EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027 acknowledges the need for more recognition of foreign qualifications. Broken Chalk highlights that a lack of effective integration, as well as forms of discrimination towards newcomers, can result in school drop-out, which might lead to social exclusion and have lifelong consequences.

The 2030 Agenda recognises migrants as a vulnerable group whose rights must be addressed and must be empowered persons. While migration might be seen as a stage of growth for some, for others, migration could be due to the adverse effects of conflict, climate change, and labour markets. Within the sustainable development goals, target 10.7, “reduce inequality in and among countries” to “facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”, is a direct reference to migration. This Sustainable Development Goal provides an opportunity for mobile populations to be empowered. By investing in their empowerment, we cultivate beneficial persons for their personal growth and for the greater good of humanity. Broken Chalk urges countries to be diligent and execute carefully formulated and well-administered migration policies.

Within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), most children migrate irregularly. Irregular child migrants are at a heightened risk of being subject to trafficking, sexual exploitation, detention or being engaged in informal labour. In 2019, ASEAN leaders adopted the ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration and subsequently implemented the Regional Plan of Action. This laid out core principles to address the vulnerabilities faced by children in the context of migration. The initiative by ASEAN encompasses collective action to strengthen national systems for children in matters including but not limited to child protection, education, psychosocial support, health, safe environment and justice. Broken Chalk appeals to leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders to pay heed to the voices of migrant children and make informed decisions for the future.

We must take a pledge to provide them with the tools not only to survive but to thrive in their journey across borders. This International Migrants Day, let the term migrants be synonymous with resilience, innovation and, most importantly, global empowerment.

Broken Chalk announces it to the public with due respect.

Signed,

Broken Chalk

Press Release: #Act4RightsNow! Broken Chalk calls on everybody to stand up for educational rights and human rights education all over the world

December 10, 2023

Human Rights Day

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All humans are born free and equal”. This December 10th, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a milestone for universally protected freedom, equality, and justice. The document implies 30 rights and freedoms guaranteed to every human being regardless of nationality, gender, origin, religion, language, political or other status.

After the Second World War, countries from all regions and diverse cultural and political contexts came together and recognised these fundamental human rights for the first time in history in December 1948, 75 years ago. Even though the declaration is not binding, it depicts the basis for international human rights law, and many countries enshrined its meanings into their national constitutions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been translated into more than 500 languages, making it the most translated document in the world. Together, this reflects its importance for every one of us.

In times of political rupture, Broken Chalk calls for the protection of fundamental and universal Human Rights. Political actors must stand together in the fight for justice, equality, and dignity of the people in this world.

Regrettably, as we observe this significant day, the shadows of colonisation and exploitation persist, particularly impacting populations in the Global South. In this regard, Broken Chalk extends our solidarity to the oppressed and reaffirms the importance of eliminating all forms of human rights violations or restrictions. The struggles against the alarming violations happening around the globe, notably in Palestine, Sudan, Congo, and where people are fighting for their rights, remind us that collective efforts are key to addressing these issues. As the famous saying goes, no one is free until everyone is free. The right to education will only be secured and accessible for everyone if the fundamental rights can be enjoyed.

For this reason, Broken Chalk keeps working in the area of advocacy and lobbying on behalf of educational victims, preparing reports to raise awareness of unseen human rights violations. Throughout this year, Broken Chalk has diligently released articles on educational challenges in different countries, submitted reports to echo the calls of the United Nations for input, and drafted press releases for human rights-related commemorations. We also maintain active relationships with international organisations sharing similar mandates and causes, thereby contributing to a broader advocacy network. On this special day, we celebrate our ongoing commitment to this cause and pay tribute to all human rights defenders who work under threats, censorship, and distress. They deserve the utmost respect and acknowledgement.

Nevertheless, human rights action is not only the responsibility of political actors and human rights defenders. As the fight for human rights never ends, Broken Chalk encourages everybody to stand up for their human rights and the rights of others. We strongly call for action in your daily life, including at the workplace and school.

Building on the achievements of these 75 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), while recognising the urgent need to address human rights violations still perpetrated around the world, we raise our voice to call upon all humanity to incessantly commit to human rights protection in all fields, especially education.

We consider an informed human rights action to be powerfully effective. In this respect, education plays a fundamental and transformative role for the present and next generations. Using human rights education, a spirit of respect for human dignity takes root both in the personal development of everybody and in social common understanding. As more investments are necessary to ensure the right to quality education for all, so must we invest in shared values and beliefs that safeguard us throughout life.

As the fourth phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education unfolds, Broken Chalk advocates for compulsory human rights education in school curricula worldwide, in line with Target 7 of SDG 4. We believe that increasing knowledge about human rights is the launching pad to a brighter future where we can fully enjoy our rights.

Broken Chalk announces it to the public with due respect.

Signed,

Broken Chalk


Written by Eliana Riggi, Leyang Fu, & Luzi Maj Leonhardt.