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Letter to War-Makers: Ensure Children Still Go to School

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Thirty-one Nobel Peace Prize winners have signed a letter calling for governments and "other parties to armed conflict" to respect schools as places of peace and safety for children. The letter (update: click on the link in the press release) calls for world leaders to ensure that children can learn free from intimidation or recruitment into the armed forces. It asks that governments make sure children have access to high-quality schooling regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or language. See the BBC's take here.

This letter is relevant to educators of English-language learners in the United States because many immigrant children come from war-torn countries and have missed a lot of school. Many refugee children from Iraq, for example, have lost several years of school because of war or displacement.

Among the signers of the letter are former President Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel. Save the Children coordinated the writing of the letter, which is part of a global campaign to urge world leaders to pay attention to the 37 million children who live in conflict-ridden areas and can't go to school.

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Kids and adults can only go to work and school when it is safe. The buildings need to be safe and the area needs to be safe. War is inherently unsafe and life can't go on as in peacetime. Wars tend to focus on destruction of resources -often property and weapons which means schools and warehouses are going to be destroyed as well as homes. Food production must be interrupted and the society can't function as before. In wars of attrition, people are reduced. War is not pretty and it is far better to work towards peace. Asking countries to keep children going to school during wartime is missing the point. Education is a country's resource and it will be disrupted. Not fair and unpleasant but it happens. Why do you think in Kosova, the Serbs first barred the children from learning Albanian in their schools then barred them from them? Because it is a good way to disrupt life and society. It also causes a subjugated class. It was the same reason slaves were barred from getting an education in the antebellum period. Sorry if I seem so rough. War just isn't a party and if a side sees a way of taking an advantage, they are going to do it.

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