Published in Disarmament Forum.
The past two decades have seen increased awareness, attention and action in response to the plight of children affected by armed conflict. However, one issue that has not received much attention, despite the regularity with which it occurs, is the phenomenon of military forces and other armed groups using school buildings. Of particular concern is when armed groups occupy and convert schools into military bases on a medium- or long-term basis. This article discusses the military use of schools by armed forces, non-state armed groups and paramilitaries, and the implications such occupations have on children’s safety and access to education. It begins with a discussion on the scope of the problem around the world and the negative consequences on children. The article concludes with four distinct and effective examples of strategies that local actors have used for ending the military use of schools during armed conflict.