Half a million people outraged by Peshawar attack join #UpForSchool campaign

Children in conflicts, Safe schools, Up for School or #upforschool campaign


Outrage over the massacre of 132 children at a school in Pakistan has prompted hundreds of thousands of people to join the #UpForSchool campaign.

The global activism website Avaaz has joined with A World at School and United Nations education envoy Gordon Brown to support the #UpForSchool Petition – which demands the right for all children to go to school without danger or discrimination.

In just over 36 hours, more than 500,000 signed the petition on Avaaz – to honour the memory of the children murdered by the Taliban in Peshawar on December 16 and to demand that world leaders keep their promise to get all children into school by the end of 2015.

The petition total – including the Avaaz signatures and those already gathered by A World at School online and in countries including Pakistan, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo – stood at just over 700,000 at 2pm UK time today. And that number is growing by the hour and is expected to hit one million over the weekend.

Ricken Patel, executive director of Avaaz, and his team are global education champions and a leading member of the campaign to get all children into school and learning. Ricken – who attended the launch of the #UpForSchool Petition at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September – said: “What kind of person murders 132 schoolchildren? An extremist who sees education as a threat. The best way to respond to this grotesque murder of many Malalas is to rally like never before to put every child in school.”

Since 2000 the number of out-of-school children has dropped from 100 million to 58 million. But in the past few years progress has waned – donor funding for education has dropped by 10% and in conflict areas around the world there have been almost 10,000 attacks on schools. The #UpForSchool campaign is a wake-up call to donors and countries with an education gap to redouble efforts to solve this global crisis.

Mr Brown, UN Special Envoy For Global Education, said: “Long before this week’s carnage an evil pattern has been emerging, of fighters using schoolchildren as pawns in their armed conflicts and making education itself a weapon of war.

“Once terrorist attacks begin, schools close down and children are left to roam the streets. The evidence is that half of the children out of school for a year will never return. We need safe schools and​ the declaration that schools are – just like hospitals – protected zones.

“We cannot stand by and see more children too afraid to learn and ​their ​schools shut. Every boy and girl should be at school​ ​safely and no one should be prevented from ​securing ​an education​.​”

Ricken Patel of Avaaz at #UpForSchool launch in New York

In the coming days, Mr Brown will deliver the #UpForSchool call directly to Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif and other world leaders.

Studies show that education is the single best strategy to eliminate extremism and violence globally. International policy leaders, including the United States Institute of Peace, have called education the most cost-effective counter-terrorism measure.

#UpForSchool is led by A World at School and is a unique global coalition working together with Avaaz. It brings together young people, NGOs, civil society, teachers, faith-based organisations and more than 100 of the world’s leading businesses – all demanding action on education

A World at School Campaigns Director Ben Hewitt said: “In light of the horrific attack on children in Pakistan, Avaaz urgently shared the petition with their 40 million-strong community around the world, with instant results. Thousands of people around the world are taking action and calling on world leaders to take action to get every child in to school.”

You can make your voice heard now by the signing the #UpForSchool Petition.

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