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Forest Whitaker's call for safe schools


On 25-27 October 2021, the Government of Nigeria, together with the Governments of Argentina, Norway, Spain, as well as the African Union Commission and the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (UNESCO is founding Steering Committee member of the Global Coalition)  hosted the 4th International Conference on the Safe Schools Declaration in Abuja. Our UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation, Forest Whitaker delivered a message on the importance of protecting education from attack.   

The purpose of the Conference was to bring the international community together to strengthen the implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration and to identify concrete actions for States to take, to ensure accountability for attacks, continuity of education at all times and justice for survivors.

Forest Whitaker, artist and social activist, is the founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI). He is committed to providing educational tools and economic opportunities to young women and men in places touched by exclusion, violence and armed conflict.  WPDI has over the past ten years reached around 1,.5 million people in South Sudan, South Africa, Uganda, Mexico and the United States. Mr. Whitaker has brought to his humanitarian work the creativity he has demonstrated as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and versatile figures. Besides his celebrated dramatic performances – he received the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actor - he is a recognized director and producer dedicated to promoting young talents.  

The world will not be able to achieve the Sustainable development goals if we cannot protect children and education from attacks and ensure the rights of learners and teachers to inhabit safe spaces. Many governments have recognized this and endorsed the safe school declaration but more if not all governments must join them (...) This conference is sending a clear message that we must also increase our effort; raising them from commitment to practice. Everyone should be on board, including governments, NGOs and UN agencies. We must find new ways and resources to protect school and educational communities from attack.

Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation