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Around the world children are routinely denied access to education due to attacks on schools and the use of schools for military purposes. The Safe Schools Declaration of 2015 has been a critical first step to addressing this issue—countries around the world have declared firm political commitments for protecting education from attack. The declaration is a first of its kind and describes the immediate and long-term consequences of attacks on students, teachers, schools, and universities, as well as the military use of educational facilities during periods of armed conflict . To ensure promises made towards the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) can turn into action, Save the Children has put forth the Schools of Zones of Peace (SZOP) project as a practical method to operationalize the declaration and offer concrete measures to move forward.
The intent of this report was to learn from current Schools as Zones of Peace project implementation. The main purpose of the evaluation was to assess and document results of the SZOP project so far and provide lessons learned and recommendations for future work, including guidance for dissemination and scaling up of the project with other organisations and global partners. This report was an external evaluation commissioned by Save the Children for the project period occurring between 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2017.
Specifically, the scope of the research was to present findings across two cases of the SZOP project in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with discussion of potential global linkages valuable for further dissemination. These projects were piloted after the SZOP model was adapted to meet the goals of the Safe Schools Declaration and it was anticipated they would shed insights on how the project could be contextualized in diverse conflict scenarios. Ultimately, learning from all pilot countries is envisaged to inform global guidance for the SZOP project so that countries can meet commitments made towards the SSD and all children may access safe and protective learning environments.
The report consists of background on the global movement to protect education from attack and evolution of the SZOP project over time. This overview is offered as rationale for current SZOP project development. Subsequently, the report presents information drawn from case studies in oPt and DRC to exemplify contextualization processes. The report gives a description of activities across both countries and offers discussion of the relevance, effectiveness, and sustainability of efforts. Lastly, the report concludes with a summary of previous sections, recommendations aimed at enriching a global approach, unintended consequences, and broad considerations moving forward.
The methods of evaluation included desk review of previous and current projects and in-country data collection with selected stakeholder groups from the global South, specifically in DRC and oPt. In total 181 participants across ten schools in oPt and DRC offered critical insights, which included nearly 40% youth representation. Data was collected through interviews, focus groups, and observations and findings were garnered by developing unique case studies in the first phase of analysis followed by a comparative case study approach.