13 reasons why the #UpForSchool youth rally in London was really cool

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

The #UpForSchool youth rally in London was a brilliant event. Hundreds of young people, teachers and activists gathered at the Southbank Centre on November 19 to hear the message that action is needed NOW to help the 58 million children around the world who are not in school.

The event, co-hosted by A World at School and the Overseas Development Institute, was officially titled Our Future, Our Rights – Youth Rising #UpForSchool. It was held on the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and also marked the UK launch of the #UpForSchool Petition – which calls on world leaders to keep their promise to get all children into school and learning by the end of 2015. You can sign the petition now.

Inspirational speakers included the amazing Kailash Satyarthi, who has just won the Nobel Peace Prize for rescuing tens of thousands of child labourers in India. Alongside him was Gordon Brown, former British prime minister and the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. Hosting the event was TV star and Paralympian Ade Adepitan. And other well known names were there too – read on and find out who they were and why the rally was such a fantastic event.

1. The place was packed with young people who want to change the world

There were serious messages from the big names on stage. But this event was about young people – and they showed they’re rising #UpForSchool to help children around the world get an education.

2. He’s a TV and Paralympics star … but Ade was totally #UpForSchool

No wonder Britain loves Ade Adepitan. He’s won a medal at the Paralympics, he’s been appearing on UK television shows for 15 years now – and he’s a lovely guy. Ade was a big hit with the young people at our rally and he tweeted: “Loved it! Always good to be part of positive change.”

3. We got an IOU for ONE MILLION signatures – no kidding!

Those very generous people at Education For All (EAA) promised to get one million signatures for the #UpForSchool Petition. And here’s the proof – from the global initiative’s Desmond Bermingham. Thanks Desmond – we’re getting that note framed. We’ve got pledges of 12 million signatures so far – and we’re trying to break the world petition record of just over 24 million. Halfway there!

4. Malala’s courageous friends Shazia and Kainat were there

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz – who were injured on the school bus when Malala Yousfzai was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2012 – spoke at the rally. Here they are with the amazing Amri Kaur Lohia, who sang A Change Is Gonna Come. All three are Global Youth Ambassadors for A World at School.

5. The message was getting out to millions of people on Twitter

A World at School co-founder Sarah Brown has 1.21m followers. Kailash Satyarthi has 47.8k. Ade Adepitan 20.3k. And thousands of people – from the school students at the event to global organisations and young activists following the action on our livestream – made sure Twitter was abuzz with #UpForSchool.

6. Teachers are getting in on the #UpForSchool act too

Yes, the #UpForSchool Petition is being driven by young people around the world. But teachers are desperate to get involved as well. Many of the teachers at the rally told us they’re now inspired to start collecting signatures at their schools and raising awareness of the obstacles stopping 58 million boys and girls going to school. We’ve got Teachers Toolkits, forms and graphics which you can find here.

7. The venue was pretty awesome

It was absolutely jam-packed in the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre. Here’s Gordon Brown getting the message across to young people that there are millions of boys and girls their age who don’t go to school because of child labour, child marriage, conflicts, dscrimination and poverty.

8. We had a bright orange Instagram booth … and loads of free stuff

We love our official A World at School colours of orange and black. And loads of the students who came to our rally got their photos snapped for our Instagram page and on Facebook.

9. The adorable Andy Akinwolere was posing for pictures

Andy Akinwolere at #UpForSchool London youth rally

He presented Britain’s long-running children’s TV show Blue Peter for five years. Andy has also appeared on Dancing on Ice, The Great Comic Relief British Bake Off and a host of other UK shows. The presenter also holds two world records for swimming – including the deepest location for an open water swim in the Pacific Ocean.

10. Our founder Sarah Brown took this very vibrant Vine

Sarah took to the stage for the official UK launch of the #UpForSchool Petition. And then she took this. Nice camera work there, Sarah.

11. People were inspired to take the “collect 1000 signatures” challenge

We’re challenging everyone to help the out-of-school children around the world by collecting 1000 signatures for the petition. You can find out more about it here.

Jenny – head teacher at Frederick Bremer School – became a well known face across Britain after appearing in the documentary TV series set in London’s Walthamstow. Jenny was at our event and we hope she’s taking the message back to her now-famous school.

13. Gordon Brown summed it up in one memorable phrase

The #UpForSchool youth rally was held on the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Abuses of children’s rights – such as child marriage, child labour, discrimination and forced service in miltary forces – all prevent children from going to school. As Gordon said at the rally, hope can lead to great things. That why you should join the cause and sign the #UpForSchool Petition. NOW!

And here’s a bonus track for you …



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