What's In Blue

Posted Thu 1 Oct 2020

Arria-formula Meeting: Access to education in conflict and post-conflict settings

On Friday (2 October), there will be an Arria-formula meeting on: “Access to education in conflict and post conflict contexts: Role of digital technology and connectivity”. Security Council members co-sponsoring the meeting are Belgium, China, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and South Africa. The session will be broadcast via UN WEB TV from 8:30 am to 10:15 am.

Briefers are expected to include: Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director; Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Assistant Secretary-General, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, International Telecommunication Union; Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, the CEO of the National Agency for Information Society of Niger; and Paula Ingabire, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology and Innovation of Rwanda.

Following the briefers’ presentations, Council members will make interventions. Other member states interested in participating will have the opportunity to submit statements in writing that will subsequently be compiled and circulated.

In a concept note prepared for the meeting, the co-sponsors maintain that the objective of the discussion is to “share lessons learned and best practices in relation to expanding connectivity to children in conflict,…post-conflict, and post-disaster situations and to discuss how the Security Council and the UN System can support the implementation of resolutions aimed at expanding” children’s access to education in such environments.

Among the questions raised in the concept note to help guide the discussion are the following:

  • What practical steps could member states take to implement Security Council resolutions related to identifying school location and connectivity, and providing infrastructure and access to schools, particularly in conflict and post conflict settings?
  • How can Member States more effectively adopt and integrate digital technologies for distance learning and other public sector digitalization?
  • What (potential) challenges could implementing agencies face in expanding distance learning to children affected by armed conflict? How can the Security Council help overcome these challenges?
  • How and where can private sector technologists play a bigger role in accelerating connectivity for all? Who should be engaged and how can Member States help broker those engagements at the highest level?
  • What practical steps could Member States take to close the digital divide and extend connectivity to learners in conflict and post-conflict settings?

The importance of connecting children to technological resources and learning opportunities in conflict and post-conflict environments is becoming a matter of increasing concern among Council members, as reflected by the broad co-sponsorship of tomorrow’s meeting. The spread of the COVID-19 virus –which increases the health risks of person-to-person contacts—appears to have fueled a greater appreciation of the need for improved connectivity through virtual technologies.

Last month, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2020/8) on attacks against schools, which was co-authored by Niger and Belgium. Among its many elements, the statement “emphasizes the need for Member States to facilitate continuation of education during armed conflict, including through distance learning and digital technology, and in this regard calls upon Member States to promote such education programmes, and encourages international support of distance learning facilities”.

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