‘A great experience that inspired us’: students’ views on #UpForSchool event

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi waves to the Town Hall audience Picture: Steve Gong

Hundreds of high school students from more than a dozen schools across New York City poured into last month’s historic #UpForSchool Town Hall, supported by Theirworld and UNICEF.

In the classroom, these students study social justice, human rights and international issues. But at this event they were able to hear first-hand accounts and learn from education advocates about the barriers that prevent children from going to school. 

They were asked for their thoughts on this inspiring event – which marked the handover of 10 million #UpForSchool Petition signatures to world leaders at the United Nations.

Here we share excerpts of what some of the students had to say about the Town Hall, the special experience of being a part of this greater movement and the desire to advocate for the right to education.

Escaped Chibok schoolgirl Salome talks on stage to UN education envoy Gordon Brown about her experience Picture: Steve Gong


DANJANA: “Somewhere at the end, a young girl came up and told her story, which was shocking. She had suffered from not going to school because a terrorist group named Boko Haram had destroyed her school and had killed many people.

“She was lucky that she had survived… Innocent children have to face horrible monsters like ISIS or Boko Haram every day and have to run for their lives. They are not able to go to school like us because first they need to survive.” 

GABY: “Children should have the right to choose if they want to get an education… Not so long ago, our school signed a petition called #UpForSchool which is helping millions of children around the world to get educated and to stop child marriage. We are the future and we can all change the world in a positive way. Education is important and everyone deserves to get an education.”

Amrit Kaur Lohia, a Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School, performs at the event Picture: Steve Gong


BEN: “It is extremely reassuring to know that there exists such thriving support towards providing education across the impoverished world. The things I learned during this informatively-saturated event were many…

“Knowledge is absolutely necessary for the progression of humanity. It is so unfortunate that millions of the youth worldwide are not being given such opportunities to learn, to be taught, to perpetuate their lives through education. With the unification and awareness of us who are more fortunate, we have the ability to make a change for the benefit of the future.”

DANI: “As a person who values education, I was pleased to be a part of an event that not only values education but makes it known that it should be a right for all children.”

DALIA: “Here were many important political figures, such as former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Mozambican Minister For Education and Culture Graca Machel… If I hadn’t attended this event, I would have never have known the injustices that exist in various nations concerning education. The information that I got from this event certainly prompted me to want to make a change!”

The audience watches the inspirational film Rise #UpForSchool made by director Steve Nguyen Picture: Steve Gong


NATALIA: “I personally was very invested in this topic, but learning on a deeper note was eye-opening. Learning more about this issue made me very appreciative and angry. Angry because this shouldn’t be happening. Kids shouldn’t be denied an education because of their gender. It’s good to know actions are being taken.” 

KEURY: “The trip was very inspirational and fun. I got to see kids dance, a woman sing, important people and most importantly it was very eye-opening.

“I learned that many people around the world aren’t allowed to have an education. Even if they do try, it isn’t always safe. It was inspiring because I got to realise that I was lucky to be granted an education that is free and safe.”

CHRISTOPHER: “Overall, I think the trip was really informative. It made me glad that I can get up and go to school safely every day.”

A film telling the story of Syrian refugees was also shown Picture: Steve Gong


ZHEN: “The #UpForSchool event was phenomenal; it sent out a powerful message showing how lucky I, as well as other students that have the opportunity to learn, are… Many other teens or children around the globe don’t necessary have the opportunity to learn due to political and/or financial issues.”

KARINA: “I thought the #upForSchool event was very inspirational because not many kids appreciate the education they have. Which this event made kids realise and reflect that not every child In this world receives education like we do. I believe this trip was a great experience because it inspired kids like us to support and make a change for children’s education in other countries.”

IBROXIMJON: “Many of the guest speakers were humble enough to share their personal anecdotes with us; many brought sentimental intuitions that gave us tears. Having to attend school shouldn’t be a privilege, rather a right for every child to reach substantial potentials.”

PATRICK: “After attending this event, I feel that the event was very informative about the importance of education and I fully support their idea of giving greater educational opportunities to those who have a harder time receiving them.”

SARITA: “Safety is a big issue for most children attending school overseas. Most children do not have the opportunity to go to school either. This event made me appreciate what I have and be willing to speak up for all of the children around the world who are denied their right of an education.” 

JIA: “The #UpForSchool event was phenomenal; it sent out a powerful message showing how lucky I, as well as other students that have the opportunity to learn are, while many other teens or children around the globe don’t necessarily have the opportunity to learn due to political and/or financial issues.”

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