“I Used to Love School”: The gendered impacts of attacks on education in Syria

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Save the Children International

Attacks on schools and other civilian infrastructure have become a defining feature of Syria’s 11-year conflict. These include threatened or actual use of force against students, teachers, education staff, and their education facilities. In addition, armed forces and non-state armed groups use schools for military purposes, increasing the risk of an attack. Attacks on education kill and injure children and disrupt access to safe, quality education, with long-term impacts on their learning, mental health, and psychosocial wellbeing.

Attacks on schools are often indiscriminate, but they impact the lives of boys and girls in the short and medium term in different ways. Female students and teachers may be specifically targeted for attack due to their gender. They are usually the first to drop out of school and the last to return following an attack. When girls are out of school, even for a short time, their likelihood of returning diminishes significantly. This host of issues has devastating consequences for children’s learning, mental health, and psychosocial wellbeing, and undermines their basic rights.

This report examines the short and potential longer-term impacts of attacks on education on girls and boys. It draws on existing data and reports that examined the devastating impact of conflict on education in early 2020 and brings in the perspectives of boys and girls that Save the Children’s partners work with in North West Syria, to understand their perceptions of the impacts of attacks.

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