UNITED NATIONS -- Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is urging the world to help prevent any more schools from becoming targets in campaigns of terror and war in global hot spots.
"It is time for the international community to wake up to this violation of the rights of children," he said at UN headquarters in Manhattan. "Terror attacks on schools are at the highest level they've been for 40 years."
Gordon, who serves as the UN's special envoy for global education, said that there have been 10,000 attacks on schools in the past five years alone and 28 million girls and boys are not in schools in areas of conflict or emergency.
Gordon, who has served as both Britain's prime minister and chancellor, cited several high-profile cases of children who became pawns in some of the world's most dangerous military clashes, including the abduction of about 200 school girls in Chibok, Nigeria, by the extremist group, Boko Haram, nearly a year ago.
He also listed the kidnapping one month ago of 89 South Sudanese boys who were conscripted to become child soldiers, an armed attack in Peshawar, Pakistan, three months ago that killed 140 children and the plight of Syrian children whose education has been upended by the war that has taken hold of the country for the past four years.
Brown made a plea to world leaders to adopt the Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies, fund an international conference in Washington next month to raise $163 million to allow up to 500,000 Syrian child refugees to study in Lebanon, to support a Safe Schools Initiative in Pakistan and to sign a pledge to allow schools the same protection that hospitals receive under international law.
The initiative in Lebanon would allow Syrian children to attend schools after Lebanese children do, thereby using the same buildings for two "shifts" of instruction but eliminating the need to build schools to accommodate the refugees.
Brown also endorsed the widespread use of an emerging technology, Predictify.Me, that he said could help local authorities predict when schools could be come targets of violence.
The software is being applied as many as 1,000 schools in Pakistan through a partnership between the government, UNICEF, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.
"It's time to end the shameful breaches of international law that are violating the rights of millions of children," he said. "It's time for this year, 2015, to be the year for ending the violation of the rights of children. It's time to end the now growing tactic of abducting children from their schools and using them as weapons of war."