Brazil is UpForSchool: spreading the message through churches and schools

A World at School, Up for School or #upforschool campaign

Throughout February A World at School launched the #UpForSchool campaign in Brazil alongside key partners in Rio de Janeiro and the state of Minas Gerais. The campaign was launched with vibrant petition drives at a Catholic church in Rio de Janeiro and a school in Minas Gerais.

Other communities including public schools, universities and NGOs also entered the campaign and began building strategies to engage their communities in a movement calling for every child’s right to education in Brazil and around the globe.

There are 3.8 million children out of school in Brazil. Issues such as high dropout rates and big regional disparities in the quality of education also add to pressing challenges the country is eager to overcome. The reaction to the #UpForSchool campaign among various groups was positive – they showed they understand the issues and are ready to take action. Among the many moving parts throughout Brazil’s #UpForSchool movement, here are some the highlights in what promises to be a vibrant campaign.

Santa Cecilia e Sao Pio X Church in Rio de Janeiro

One of the first groups to join the campaign in Brazil was the Santa Cecilia e Sao Pio X Church in Rio de Janeiro, which launched #UpForSchool with a petition drive and discussion around education.

During his sermon, Father Avelino welcomed all those present to sign the petition and spoke of why he thought his community should get behind the message. Raising a poster to the congregation with the words “Join the Movement for Universal Education”, he said: “The principle of this campaign goes beyond religion. Education is a basic human right. Let’s unite with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Jews and the atheists who are supporting this petition because the right to go to school is for everyone.”

Moments earlier, Fr Avelino had himself signed the petition and confirmed the support of his church for the campaign. He designated Maria, on his right in the picture above, as the Church’s ambassador for the petition, charged with collecting signatures and spreading the message of #UpForSchool at each mass. 

A nun present at the mass – pictured above showing a poster with the message “fight for the right to education” – was particularly interested in the campaign. “I’m a teacher”, she said. “I’ll take the petition to my school because this is an important cause. Many people in this country talk about education, but there is very little action. This is action.” She took a petition book with her and plans to return it to the church once she it’s filled with 1000 signatures.  

Once the 7pm mass was finished, not a single person left without signing the petition.

Raulino Pecheco School in Rio Novo, Minas Gerais

The school signed #UpForSchool with a campaign launch on campus and a petition drive for students and teachers.

Classes of students convened on the day to meet the A World at School team, learn about the campaign and discuss issues around education. For most of the students it was their first time hearing that 58 million children were out of school. Many of them were shocked to learn about the scale of issues like child marriage and attacks on education around the world.

Although they knew about the challenges to education in Brazil, and even their own region, the chance to help those who are less fortunate to overcome barriers to education in countries like Nigeria, for example, motivated them to sign #UpForSchool.

The school’s head teacher, signing the petition in the picture above, stressed the importance of providing the children with a global context. She said: “Rio Novo is a small town and so the students are not exposed to the realities that children like them face on the other side of the world. It’s great that they can learn through a campaign like this and help make a change.”

Following the campaign launch, the students of Raulino Pacheco School have continued collecting signatures from their friends and family. They hope the campaign will soon spread to neighbouring schools and increase the voice of their community in this global movement.

Veiga de Almeida University

Universidade Veiga de Almeida is a leading private university in Brazil with strong links to Rio de Janeiro’s biggest grassroots networks for sexual health awareness.

Brazil #UpForSchool Veiga de Almeida University

One of the university’s most coveted programmes, the “So alegria vai contagiar neste Carnaval” project, distributes around 500,000 condoms throughout Rio de Janeiro at every year during the time of Carnaval.

They signed #UpForSchool and launched the campaign at Carnaval 2015. Alongside distributing condoms and awareness building materials, the project promoted the campaign and collected the first of many signatures to come.

Sign the #UpForSchool Petition and learn more about the campaign here.

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