Thirty-one Nobel Peace Prize winners urged world leaders on Thursday to devote more attention to an estimated 37-million children who live in conflict-affected countries and cannot go to school.
In a joint statement, the Dalai Lama, former United States president Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, among others, called for urgent action to improve education to help build peace in those nations.
“War and conflict are perpetrated by adults. But every adult was once a child and grew up with experiences and guidance that shaped their lives. At the heart of this lies education,” they said.
“But if more than 70-million children do not even have the chance to go to school, and more than half of these children live in countries affected by armed conflict — what are these children learning?”
The letter was written as part of Save the Children charity’s “rewrite the future” campaign, which is focused on securing quality education for millions of children who cannot go to school because of war and armed conflict.
The Britain-based charity says one in three children — 37-million worldwide — is not attending school because of conflict.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, about five million of the 9,6-million school-age children were not unable to attend even before the latest outbreak of fighting, it said. The violence has now forced many more from their classes.
The laureates urged governments and other parties to ensure education is a key part of every peace process, and that all children have access to schooling and can learn free from fear of violence or intimidation.
“Peace begins in the minds of children, and it must begin today,” they said.
Carter, who won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for decades of efforts to find peaceful solutions to global conflicts, added: “I have seen the beneficial impact of education in promoting peace.
“It would be a mistake to underestimate the influence that children can have in shaping the opinions and decisions of adults.” — AFP