West and Central Africa region faces the worst humanitarian needs in years requiring, with 67,5 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, including almost 14 million children in need in the sector of Education .
The upsurge in violence in the region has seriously undermined children’s prospects for survival, education, and development. In 2022, it was reported that 57 million children in Central and West Africa did not attend schools which represents almost of quarter of children worldwide . As of March 2023, 13, 731 schools remained closed in the region (6,134 in Burkina Faso, 1,762 in Mali , 1,344 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 878 in Niger, 181 in Nigeria) as a direct consequence of attacks by non-identified armed groups or the climate of insecurity . In addition to the deaths and injuries caused by attacks, they often lead to a high drop in student attendance, deployment problems and teacher retention in insecure areas.
The Safe School Declaration (SSD) aims to mitigate the effects of armed conflicts on Education by encouraging states and partners to foster a protective environment for education in fragile contexts. Since its launch in 2015 , 17 of the 27 West and Central African states have endorsed SSD, the Republic of Congo being the latest one in October 2022 . Endorsement and adherence to its guidelines means that countries are committed to putting in place all the structures and policies needed to implement the declaration. These include setting up a national steering committee to monitor the declaration, reporting on attacks on schools and domesticating SSD within the national legal framework.
This brief highlights the situation of education under attack in the Central Sahel, DRC and Nigeria, the progress made towards the implementation of the declaration across the region and the gaps. It is particularly focused on the structures put in place for operationalization, the actions undertaken and the legal framework.