Desmond Tutu helps #UpForSchool Petition reach six million signatures

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

He started his adult life as a high school teacher. So it was fitting that Desmond Tutu – legendary anti-apartheid activist, social rights campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner – should help the #UpForSchool Petition break through the six million signatures mark.

He added his name to the growing list of people across the globe who are demanding that world leaders keep their promise to get every child into school.

Desmond Tutu with A World at School’s Ben Hewitt

Archbishop Tutu signed the petition today in Cape Town, South Africa, as he attended the World Economic Forum on Africa. He wrote: “God bless you, Desmond Tutu, 5.6.2015, Cape Town.”

He is the third Nobel Peace Prize winner to sign #UpForSchool – the others are last year’s joint winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi.

Desmond Tutu’s signed #UpForSchool poster

A World at School’s Campaigns Director Ben Hewitt said: “Getting a hugely influential figure like Desmond Tutu to sign the petition gives a massive boost to all the people around the world who are calling for urgent action to get every boy and girl into school.

“With the support of people like him, we are able to take the #UpForSchool message even further – from village to town to city and from country to country, everyone coming behind this children’s rights movement and transforming the futures of millions of young people.”

A student sits at a Tutudesk, with Thandi Tutu-Gxashe

Archbishop Tutu is a passionate supporter of education. He once said: “Universal education is not only a moral imperative but an economic necessity, to pave the way toward making many more nations self-sufficient and self-sustaining.”

He launched the Desmond Tutu Tutudesk Campaign, which aims to provide 20 million mobile desks to children in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. The region has a shortage of 95 million school desks.

Thandi Tutu-Gxashe signs the #UpForSchool Petition

Archbishop Tutu signed the #UpForSchool Petition after conducting Friday morning service at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. It was a fitting setting – as millions of signatures have been collected by faith networks such as World Vision, Muslim Aid and the Salvation Army.

His daughter Thandi Tutu-Gxashe also added her name and talked about the need for children to have a quality education.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka with UN education envoy Gordon Brown

Ben said: “She kindly offered to share the petition through their network of schools and other groups in South Africa. #UpForSchool is now being recognised as a global movement of people calling for education for every child – and world leaders are starting to take note.”

Another prominent South African activist who signed the #UpForSchool Petition today was Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. The country’s deputy president from 2005 to 2008, she is now United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women.

Global Youth Ambassadors are spreading #UpForSchool message

At the World Economic Forum on Africa, she emphasised the need for education and skills if African growth is to be led by industry. She said more needs to be done to advance issues such as girls’ education, unwanted pregnancy and early marriages to get significant numbers of women into the mainstream economy.

The #UpForSchool Petition is a youth-led drive to ensure world leaders hear the voices of ordinary people in every country. A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors are working tirelessly in their communities to get signatures and our GYAs in South Africa will be holding an #UpForSchool event in the coming weeks.

You can make your voice heard too – sign the #UpForSchool Petition.

Read Ben Hewitt’s blog on the #UpForSchool message being delivered to the World Economic Forum on Africa.

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