Schools should be safe havens. Pictured: An UNWRA school in the Middle East.

Education and students in times of conflict

The following resolution was carried by Council at its meeting on August 2.

The Federation endorses Education International’s Declaration “Schools shall be safe sanctuaries” which advocates for all children to have the right to education. The Declaration calls on the international community to:

  • prevent violations of this right
  • ensure the safety and security of students and teachers
  • prevent educational institutions being targeted or used for military purposes.

The most recent indiscriminate attacks on Gaza have seen hundreds of children killed and maimed, schools being destroyed and hospitals being targeted. The safety and wellbeing of children and their right to education is the fundamental business of all teachers. The Federation as a progressive teacher union is committed to education, peace and social justice.

The Federation commends the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that provides services including schools for over one million refugees in Gaza. It is appalling that schools have been hit by a missile killing both students and staff.

Federation condemns the remarks [July 29] of Australian Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, which are abhorrent considering the attack on civilians and, in particular, schools.

Whilst the NSW Teachers Federation does not support any state, organisation or military force that attacks civilian targets, including Hamas, recent and current actions of the Israeli Government are hugely disproportionate and we unreservedly condemn their actions.

The expansionist Israeli state appears to be indifferent to both world opinion and to the plight of civilians and innocents in Palestine. History will judge it very harshly.

Federation supports the International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow’s call for “an immediate ceasefire and urgent humanitarian assistance to Gaza, followed by renewed international pressure to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and a negotiated settlement to respect the 1967 borders between Israel and a Palestinian state. The world cannot allow the injustice to continue, nor can it accept the prospect of yet more violence causing the deaths of innocent civilians”.

The Senior Officers of the Teachers Federation are to express the views of the union to the Israeli embassy, the Jewish Board of Deputies and the appropriate representatives of the Palestinian community in Australia, condemning Israel’s attack on children and schools in the Gaza strip.

The Federation will urgently call on the AEU to coordinate a national response to the violence and injustice carried out against children and their right to education across the globe, but with particular reference to the children of Palestine.

The Federation calls on the Australian government to implement a military embargo on Israel and use its influence on the Security Council to persuade other nations to support this.