Faiths community defends education as a basic human right.


Divya Selvakumar, Founder of American Hindu World Service,  shows why she is #UpForSchool at a meeting of the Global Faiths Coalition for Education on September 23.


This week in New York, a meeting of the Global Faiths Coalition (GFC) for Education brought together major faith leaders, faiths-based organisations and civil society partners to dicuss how we can best engage relgious communities to achieve universal education.

Worldwide, there are 5.8 billion people who identify with a religious or spiritual group – and as the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, stresses in his most recent article about GFC Education – we must enlist the support of this global community if we are to enact real change for the 58 million children who remain out of school. GFC Education is on a path to do just that.

Launched in April 2014, GFC Education now forms a coalition of 30 members, representing six major faith groups – Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. The aim of the coalition is to become a leading force for education by employing the historic goodwill and action of religious communities to secure every child’s right to an education. A big step towards that goal was taken by members of GFC Education at this week’s meeting.

Members asked how they could motivate the billions of religiously-affiliated people who support education as a basic human right to take action. They recognised the importance of creating calls to action that are specific to each local community. For example, leaders are finding ways to combat child marriage in places such as Malawi, where girls miss out on education because they are forced to marry young. Another crucial aspect for successful engagement is to frame the argument for education around a religious or spiritual base that the community can relate to. The success of the Jubilee Drop the Debt campaign among faith groups, for example, can be largely attributed to the theological case it presented for relieving the socio-economic burden faced by countries with excessive debt – the same must be done to motivate a major push for universal primary education as a basic human right that all people can agree on.

The plan of action for GFC Education has been set out. Over the coming months A World at School and GFC Education will work with each of its members to mobilise their community through local messages and calls to action. Many organisations gave firm commitments to collaborate at Tuesday’s meeting. Notably, the World Evangelical Alliance – a network of churches in 129 countries representing 650 million constituents – issued a statement declaring they will host a Google Hangout on the topic of faith and education and promised to make the #UpForSchool petition a top priority.

Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO/Secretary-General of World Evangelical Alliance, shows why he’s #UpForSchool at a meeting of the Global Faiths Coalition for Educaiton in New York City on 23 September.


Other members of the coalition, including Sojourners, World Faith, Muslim Aid and American Hindu World Service also promised to promote the #UpForSchool message and generate support for education in their local and wider communities.