Global Youth Ambassadors on #UpForSchool: Munira Khalif

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

A World at School hosted the #UpForSchool Petition and the September Forum in New York during the United Nations General Assembly. In a week-long series, four of our Global Youth Ambassadors and a member of the Youth Advocacy Group are writing blogs about their experiences while attending these and other events.

MONDAY: Bamine Boye, Sierra Leone. TUESDAY: Munira Khalif, USA. WEDNESDAY: Beyan Pewee, Liberia. THURSDAY: Sumaya Saluja, India. FRIDAY: Alexandria Fitzgerald, USA


By Munira Khalif, A World at School Global Youth Ambassador from United States of America

As the 69th United Nations General Assembly convened, young leaders from across the globe rallied to make noise and demand action for the 58 million children who are still denied the fundamental human right of education at the #UpforSchool rally in New York City. We were joined by incredible trailblazers including United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, Graça Machel, Isha Sesay, Peter Vesterbacka, Ricken Patel, Hadiza Bela Usman and Ahmed Alhendawi.

I had the honour of being one of the recipients of the 2014 UN Youth Courage Awards. However, to me the real honourees are the children whose stories continue to be untold, who have been denied the licence to own their own mind.  As I stated in a spoken word piece that I performed at the rally:

If you are quiet enough
You can hear their muted voices
Their footsteps on the graveyard of where their schools use to be 
Collateral damage in a war that has misplaced its meaning
Their fingertips wrapped around their books like rigid hands on a trigger
Reading is an act of rebellion

As an activist for universal education and a 17-year-old in high school, I believe in the capacity that education has to transcend the chains of poverty and inequality – especially girl’s education. After all, I am a living legacy of the power of educating a girl.

Unfortunately, at the current rate of progress it will be the year 2086 before access is reached for the poorest, rural African girls. We must ask ourselves: can we afford to wait? Afford to be silent?

Education is a powerful force. A force so powerful that slaves during the antebellum era in the US would spend the evenings learning in secret – risking death if discovered. A weapon so powerful that it is still an outlawed practice in some parts of the world today. Universal education has the capacity to transform the world as we know it.

So I ask you again: can we afford to wait? To be silent?

The world cannot afford to wait, afford 58 million loses. This ubiquitous lack of education is a world issue – it is our issue.

The 69th UN General Assembly has now convened and I call upon world leaders, citizens of the world and, most importantly, young people to be catalysts for change. I know that as young people we are often overlooked – denied a seat at the table. But I say, “Pull up a chair.” Make your voices heard; we are the largest generation of youth to encompass this earth.

The world needs you more than ever before to create tangible change. No more promises, no more talks – we need action. We need millions rising up and showing their solidarity by signing the #UpForSchool Petition.

Let us get to work. Let us make this petition the largest the world has ever seen. Let us make history!

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