One million people call for a ‘bright future’ for education in Pakistan
Up for School or #upforschool campaign
The #UpForSchool Petition was launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014 by hundreds of young people coming together to stand up for the right to an education – no matter who they are or where they are born.
Alongside them were global leaders, including politician and activist Graça Machel, and UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown. Many organisations stepped forward to back the call to action by pledging signatures, totalling 17 million. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) from Pakistan was one of them.
Baela Raza Jamil speaking at the #UpForSchool Petition launch
ITA’s dedication and commitment has led to more than one million signatures being collected across Pakistan. And they are now tirelessly working to meet their goal of three million signatures.
Baela Raza Jamil, Director of Programmes at ITA, explained that her motivation in joining the movement is to “mirror earlier zeal across the country to illustrate people’s resolve for education of large numbers of out-of-school children”.
So, how do they do it? Here are five examples of how they managed to collect one million signatures and some of their success stories along the way:
1. Education Youth Ambassadors (EYAs) take action
The EYAs are a part of a network of 220 young leaders that were formed by ITA, in collaboration with A World at School, to build on and strengthen the emerging youth movement for education in Pakistan. These young people have been campaigning for #UpForSchool in their schools and communities and have amassed thousands of signatures.
EYA Shafi Ullah explained what motivated him to join the campaign: “I want to see the bright future of Pakistan in the field of education. I want to convey the message of each child that is signing for their right to an education”.
Education Youth Ambassadors stand #UpForSchool in the wake of the Army Public School attack in Peshawar Photo: Wisal Clicks
2. #UpForSchool petitions are collected door-to-door
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey is the largest citizen-led, household-based initiative that is conducted to improve the state of learning outcomes for children. The #UpForSchool Petition has been incorporated in the assessment, reaching over 50,000 households.
ASER volunteers conducting door-to-door education surveys Photo: ASER Pakistan
3. Local government officials champion the petition
Mohammed Sarwar, the Governor of Punjab at the time, signs the #UpForSchool Petition. At a press briefing held by ITA, Mr. Sarwar urged all universities, colleges, schools, businesses, parents and civil society to participate in the campaign.
Mohammed Sarwar signs the #UpForSchool Petition
4. Schools and universities join the movement
ITA has rallied the support of education institutions across Pakistan – over 75 major Schools and 8 Universities have committed their support and are rigorously collecting signatures from students and teachers. The Educators – a large schools-based network – describes people’s reactions when they took the petition to their schools: “the objective of the petition carries a feel-good factor that makes it easy for it to garner support from the petitioner. The people can easily connect to the cause and in turn find a sense of civic duty inside them by signing it.”
Ms. Rabia Najam, Academic Head of The Educators, says: “Up for school is a commendable effort to help education get restored to the rightful place among our list of priorities by reminding the authorities of the promise made to their respective communities. It is thus an endeavour of unequivocal importance and moral eminence to anyone who wishes to hand over a better world to their young than the one they received.”
School children at the Government Girls Secondary School in Karachi sign the petition
5. Petition drives at events
ITA has organised a number of different events to help drive the petition forward and expand the campaign across Pakistan. This includes panel discussions, vigils, interactive sessions and youth rallies that highlight educational issues in Pakistan and promote the #UpForSchool campaign.
ITA hosts a panel discussion to celebrate International Women’s Day and stand up for girls’ education
ITA asks that everyone signs the #UpForSchool Petition to “stand in solidarity with children all around the world that are deprived of the basic human right to education”.