Bombing Blackboards: Attacks on Schools Around the World

In October 2010, we invited Bede Sheppard to talk about his powerful work as a human rights researcher in the children's rights division of Human Rights Watch. Bede's local school visit to talk with students and teachers about targeted attacks on the schools he regularly visits in conflict-affected regions in south Asia, was alarming. 

We consider attacks on education as a war tactic an issue of the greatest priority, and for us,  a 'forgotten' but imperative issue for the American public to become educated about.

Yet, given the number of other imperative issues, how can attacks on education get us to pay attention? Especially during a time when some polling shows that Americans are increasingly vocal about dealing first with urgent issues at home--including the state of our own education systems? 

We all understand that education issues pose different ethical dilemmas and are not the same the world over. For example, school closings in Detroit  because of budget shortfalls and student depopulation are obviously quite different than the school closings caused by targeted bombings that Bede Sheppard documents with the help of the brave schoolchildren who are subject to these attacks in conflicted-affected regions.

At the same time, we all understand the basic ethical principle about education the world over: the quest for learning is a human right. Above all, children must be able to attend schools that are universally recognized sanctuaries from the violence of the world around them.

Learning about the documentary findings of  Bede Sheppard and other human rights researchers at Human Rights Watch is just one way to get informed and to get us to pay attention.  What did we learn from Bede's talk? Among many things, we learned that the common appeal of teachers the world over to "Pay Attention!" takes on a whole new meaning when the teachers are getting killed and the bombs are hitting school blackboards.

Attacks On Education on Vimeo.


To learn more, please check out these related resources on


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