December 29, 2014

Review of 2014: A momentous year for A World at School

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

It has been a year of hope and despair. A year when global education issues hit the headlines and campaigners around the world came together to make their voices heard.

A World at School hosted major events, devised safe school plans, talked to world leaders, started the Global Youth Ambassadors programme and launched both the #EducationCountdown and the #UpForSchool Petition.

Here we take a look at some of the biggest stories and events covered by A World at School over the past 12 months.

SYRIAN SCHOOL PLAN

Syrian schoolchildren at their desks UNICEF photo

A school shift plan in Lebanon had put 88,000 Syrian refugee children back into school by March. The innovative pilot, which worked by utilising Lebanon’s schools on a double-shift system, ultimately aimed to provide 435,000 refugee and vulnerable children with education. Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, called on the international community to raise the $195.5million needed to fully fund the plan for one year.

EDUCATION COUNTDOWN SUMMIT

Gordon Brown with Global Youth Ambassadors at Education Countdown Summit

On April 10, A World at School hosted the 2015 Countdown Summit in Washington, DC (pictured above). It brought together leading grassroots campaigners, communications and policy experts and youth activists together with global policy leaders, including Mr Brown and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Shakira is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF

The Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action was announced to pressure the international community to take action on behalf of children across the world. It includes singer-songwriter Shakira (pictured above), actors Jude Law and Goldie Hawn, concert pianist Lang Lang and global icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

GLOBAL FAITHS COALITION

Global Faiths Coalition for Education logos

Also in April, the Global Faiths Coalition for Education was launched. It comprised a diverse range of faiths-based communities to support the universal right to education and mobilise their supporters at key points in the lead-up to the Millennium Development Goal Two deadline in 2015. Since being formed, the GFC has been involved in the #BringBackOur Girls campaign, World Day of Prayer events and the #UpForSchool campaign.

BRING BACK OUR GIRLS

faces of some of the missing Chibok schoolgirls

April also saw the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. It was a story the world's media was very slow to pick up on - but the Nigerian press and A World at School continued to report on the missing girls until it became global news. Our Global Youth Ambassadors in the country called on the government and international community to do more to find the girls.

Gordon Brown with school children in Abuja, Nigeria

UN education envoy Gordon Brown (pictured above at a school near Abuja) worked with a coalition of Nigerian business leaders, A World at School and the Global Business Coalition for Education launched the Safe Schools Initiative - a fund to pilot hundreds of secure educational establishments. Later in the year, the first students were enrolled in the programme.

In July, 100-day vigils were held around the world, with A World at School's Global Youth Ambassadors spearheading the campaign in many countries. An online petition by A World at School called for the safe return of the girls and thousands also left messages of support. Sadly, as we head into 2015, the girls are still missing

GLOBAL YOUTH AMBASSADORS

Global Youth Ambassadors page

A World at School launched its Global Youth Ambassador (GYA) programme at the EducationCountdown Summit. The 500 ambassadors, aged 14 to 29, are a global network of young people campaigning in their schools, communities and countries for action to get every child into school and learning. You can read about their amazing work in blogs written by some of our youth ambassadors. In Pakistan, the Education Youth Ambassadors programme has been formed through a partnership between A World at School and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), which promotes education in the country.

Global Youth Ambassadors at the #UpForSchool rally in Kenya

In recent months, GYAs have taken part in #BringBackOurGirls vigils and rallies, #EducationCountdown events and have been the driving force behind the #UpForSchool Petition. GYAs gave passionate speeches at the New York, London, Kenya (pictured above) and Democratic Republic of Congo launches of #UpForSchool.

YOUTH TOOLKITS

Pages from Youth Education Advocacy Toolkit

A World at School has been involved in the launch of several toolkits to help Global Youth Ambassadors and other young advocates. We worked with the charity Plan and the Youth Advocacy Group of the Global Education First Initiative to launch The Education We Want: An Advocacy Toolkit, a 132-page guide packed with ideas and resources. 

Accessible versions of the advocacy toolkit became available for people with disabilities. Other A World at School toolkits included one for action on Syrian refugee children, planning a Day of the African Child event and an #UpForSchool toolkit for teachers.

DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD

More than 100 events were held in over 50 countries on June 16 to mark the Day of the African Child

Day of the African Child children's run in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The day before, thousands of children took part in a four-kilometre run outside the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (pictured above).

Students in Yemen show their support for Bring Back our Girls on Day of the African Child

People across the world also used Day of the African Child to show their support for efforts to #BringBackOurGirls who were captured by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Nigeria.

500-DAY COUNTDOWN

#EducationCountdown campaign page

In August, the #EducationCountdown campaign was officially launched, with support from more than 100 organisations. With 500 days left until the end of 2015, A World at School said it would focus on five key barriers that keep children excluded from school - providing education in war-torn areas, protecting girls from child marriage, making sure children are at school and not at work, ending discrimination against girls and ensuring enough teachers are trained. You can read more about the #EducationCountdown here and have a look at the many supporting organisations we have.

SEPTEMBER FORUM

September Forum breakfast meeting in New York

The #EducationCountdown September Forum was held by A World at School in New York City, co-hosted with the Global Business Coalition for Education and in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. The all-day forum gathered global development partners, including high-level representatives from government, business, faith organisations, NGOs, United Nation agencies, foundations, youth organisations, teachers and civil society. Pictured above are the business breakfast attendees.

The event was held during the 69th United Nations General Assembly - and you can read about 10 turning points for global education during that week.

At the September Forum, Strive Masiyiwa - founder of Econet Wireless - joined Gordon Brown to announce a $15 million XPrize for Global Literacy.

RISING #UPFORSCHOOL

#UpForSchool youth rally in New York

In the same week as the United Nations General Assembly, the #UpForSchool campaign was launched with a youth rally in New York. More than 300 youth activists demanded that world leaders act to keep their promise of universal education by the end of 2015. They were joined by some big names on the world stage - including Graca Machel and Gordon Brown.

A video explained the background to the #UpForSchool campaign and petition - and the New York launch was followed by other hugely successful country launches, including the United Kingdom, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo and at the Nobel Peace Party in Norway (all pictured below).

#UpForSchool events in UK, DRC, Kenya and Norway

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

 

In November, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to children's campaigners and A World at School supporters Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. The judges praised them "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education". Malala and Kailash received their awards at a ceremony in Oslo on December 10.

Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai at Nobel Peace Party

An hour before the ceremony, 6000 children celebrated the pair's awards at the Peace Party held by Save The Children. Malala and Kailash were greeted with rapturous applause when they took to the stage outside the Nobel Peace Center. The Norwegian schoolchildren used the moment to call for action on global education and mark their support for the #UpForSchool Petition.

EBOLA SAFE SCHOOLS PLAN

Boy in Liberia told about symptoms of Ebola

On December 3, a report by the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School called for swift action to help the five million children out of school because of the Ebola crisis in West Africa. It recommended a three-fold response - including the safe reopening of schools as soon as is safely possible.

PESHAWAR SCHOOL ATTACK

 

The year ended on a horrific note, with the massacre of 132 children and nine staff at the Army Public School in Peshawar by the Pakistani Taliban.

#UpForSchool Petition on Avaaz website

The terrible attack sparked a wave of revulsion throughout Pakistan and across the world. Candelight vigils were held, the Pakistani government and public united to denounce terrorism and hundreds of thousands of people honoured the memory of the victims by signing the #UpForSchool Petition. It helped to take the number of signatures past one million.

You can make your voice heard by signing the #UpForSchool Petition here.

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