The #UpForSchool story: a year of achievements and more to come

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

World leaders are meeting over the next few days at the United Nations General Assembly. While the Millennium Development Goals promise was to get all children into school by the end of 2015, there are still 59 million who are not getting a primary education.

One year ago during the UNGA, A World at School launched the #UpForSchool Petition in New York to put pressure on those leaders to keep their promise of universal education.

Here’s a look at the success of the petition over the past year – and what we hope will be achieved during and after a historic week when a new set of global goals will be agreed.

A Pakistani girl puts her name to the #UpForSchool Petition



That’s how many have signed the #UpForSchool Petition. World leaders have backed it, celebrities have supported it, business leaders have welcomed it, communities have embraced it and youth activists have taken it to their hearts.

The biggest ever petition on education will be delivered during UNGA. We believe NOTHING CHANGES WITHOUT PRESSURE and this petition will help drive forward real decisions that will result in more children going to school.

Children in Bangladesh visited by the charity World Vision



The petition was led from the start by our network of Global Youth Ambassadors – 500 of them in 85 countries. Youth rallies were held around the world to launch the campaign and support has been built in schools, colleges, communities and at youth events throughout the past 12 months.

Huge support has been given by faith-based organisations such as Muslim Aid, World Vision and the Salvation Army and by religious figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa. These are communities of people around the world standing up to the injustice of denying a child an education.

Gathering signatures in countries such as Kenya and Lebanon

The petition has been used to demand action on specific issues as well. One million signatures were added after the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan – and a 15-point plan for safe schools was drawn up by A World at School and backed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Eight million signatures were taken to the Oslo Education Summit in July and world leaders backed a Global Humanitarian Platform and Fund for Education in Emergencies.

Girls in Brazil share the message in Portuguese

During the UNGA, the petition messages will be shared with leaders from governments, businesses, UN agencies and NGOs to highlight the global demand for action – a call for action from villages, towns and cities across the world.

But the hardest to reach have been left adrift by the international community..

Nsed from Nigeria does household work instead of going to school


59 MILLION CHILDREN                                          

The most vulnerable children, the most marginalised, the girls married off as children, the boys and girls forced into work in order for their families to survive and the many children caught in the aftermath of conflict – these are the 59 million the MDGs DID NOT REACH.

The new Sustainable Development Goals must focus on action for the most vulnerable children not in school. It can do this by prioritising Education in Emergencies, ending child marriage, child labour and discrimination, making schools safe and ensuring quality teaching.

Global Youth Ambassador Majid Mushtaq visits a Pakistani school

The #UpForSchool Town Hall event in New York on September 28 will recognise this growing movement, as well as highlight the 59 million children still denied an education.

It will be hosted by the British charity Theirworld and the UN children’s agency UNICEF, who are joining forces to make education a priority on the first day of the SDGs.




It will bring together a worldwide movement of inspiring young people, faiths, civil-society groups, NGOs and governments, who over the past year have been fighting tirelessly to ensure that every child has a future where they can go to school.

Laura Carmichael speaks to out of school children in Houch El-Oumara tented settlement, Bekaa Vally, Lebanon

British TV star Laura Carmichael speaks to out-of-school children at a Bekaa Vally settlement in Lebanon

The meetings coincide with the first day back at school in Lebanon. We will be calling on world leaders to back a plan to urgently get one million Syrian children into school and launch a new Fund for Education in Emergencies. Last year less than 2% of all humanitarian aid went to education and this must change.

Together we can achieve so much. We can send a message that NO WORLD LEADER CAN IGNORE. All children have the right to an education. Join the movement and stand #UpForSchool.

Sign the #UpForSchool Petition here.

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