On International Education Day, it is vital to remember that education must be protected and maintained at all times, including amid conflict.

And it is not just active conflict that can rob children of their education.

The deadly legacy of war, the landmines and unexploded bombs that litter communities across the world prevent children from safely accessing their schools while also preventing displaced peoples and refugees from returning home to rebuild their schools.

MAG is working in more than 26 countries to find and safely dispose of landmines and unexploded bombs to help children access an education while, at the same time, delivering life-saving lessons to keep girls and boys safe from the explosive dangers they face.

Pupils at MN/Mullikulam Government Tamil Mixed School enjoy their break in the playground

In Sri Lanka, the 50 girls and 64 boys attending MN/Mullikulam Government Tamil Mixed School discovered their school was surrounded by a minefield after local farmers uncovered several landmines littering its playground.

MAG is working to clear the landmines so that the children and teachers can learn and teach, free from fear. 

And when clearance is complete, the school plans to build new living quarters to support its teachers, some of whom have to travel more than 50km to get to work, with only one bus route serving the remote region.

At M/Periyamadu East Government Muslim Mixed School in Sri Lanka, 43 girls and boys from families displaced from their homes during the civil war were also given the freedom to play and learn without fear after MAG teams cleared landmines from more than 17,000 square metres of playground around the school.

Pupils in Nachat Primary School

“After we found a mine, my teachers and I were highly worried about the students. We have to safeguard all the children, and we are responsible for all children during school hours and even after school hours. I am stress-free after the clearance,” says Principal M.A. Sajitha.

At Nachat Primary School in Laos, MAG cleared 30 unexploded bombs from its playground. The bombs were the legacy of a war that ended almost 50 years. They had laid dormant for decades but always remained ready to kill and main at any moment.

"Before MAG’s clearance of the area around the school, I had to watch my students all the time when they played around the school because I worried they would find and play with a bomb," remembers Mrs Vong Keomanee, a teacher at Nachat Primary School for almost a decade.

"When my children study here, I’m not afraid of them finding unexploded bombs now," says Mrs No, who has two children at Nachat Primary School. 

Pupils at Nguyen Tat Thanh Primary School

Over the border in Vietnam, MAG 'emergency response' teams acted quickly to safely remove a deadly explosive found in the foundations of Nguyen Tat Thanh Primary School.

The school was digging foundations as part of an expansion project to support more than 700 girls and boys in the community to access an education.

Education is essential for helping to protect children and eradicating poverty — it is also a key tool for human development.

The opportunity of education lost to conflict is not just a loss to the individual but a loss to a whole society and its ability to recover when the fighting stops.

Clearing the deadly legacy of conflict is essential for upholding girls' and boys' fundamental right to a safe education.

Girls and boys rarely get a second chance at education.