#UpForSchool students send messages to new global education commission

Education funding, Up for School or #upforschool campaign

Members of the commission meet in New York Picture: Steve Gong

At the start of 215, the outlook for global education was pretty bleak. The out-of-school primary-age population WAS RISING to 59 million because of emergencies including the Syrian conflict and the earthquake in Nepal – and aid for basic education was GOING DOWN, dropping by 22% from 2010 to 2013.

That lack of financing prevented a total of 124 million children and adolescents getting an education and millions more without quality learning opportunities.

But campaigners began to turn the tide. Millions signed the #UpForSchool Petition, calling on world leaders to keep their promise to get every child into school.

At the Oslo Education Summit in July, there were several significant shifts. Norway pledged to double its international development assistance for global education, the United Kingdom and United States promised more money for Syrian refugees and several countries supported a “September surge” to help Syrian refugees go to school in Lebanon.

The Global Humanitarian Platform and Fund for Education in Emergencies was agreed. And the summit agreed to the launch of an International Commission on the Financing of Global Education Opportunities, called for by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and to be funded by her country.

On September 29, that commission – whose aim is to reverse the lack of global education funding – met for the first time and was presented with messages from students about why every child deserves to be in school.

The commission includes more than 20 world leaders, including five former presidents and prime ministers and three Nobel Prize recipients. They met in New York and discussed how best to move forward at a time when increased conflict has forced millions of children out of the classrooms to become refugees with no prospects of education.

Erna Solberg announces the new commission at the Oslo summit

The messages for the commissioners came from students who were at the #UpForSchool Town Hall event – held on September 28 to mark the hand-in of the #UpForSchool Petition signed by an incredible 10 million people.

Each of the special programmes printed for the event had a page for people to leave a personal message. It said: “Dear International Commissioners, I am #UpForSchool because…”

Among the messages left by school students were these:

“I am a Lebanese-American who has first-hand experienced how education changes the life of anyone who is blessed enough to have it.”

“So many exploited children are not given the chance to be educated. Sex-trafficked, enslaved and exploited children are deprived. We all deserve and education. We all deserve equality.”

“Every young girl should have an education. We are the future but there won’t be one without education.”

“Every child deserves the chance to be whatever they want to be.”

“We can’t have freedom without education. Everyone deserves the right to be in school.”

The commission is co-convened by Prime Minister Solberg alongside President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, President Peter Mutharika of Malawi and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Gordon Brown – the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education – who chairs the commission, said: “We have come together to review the future of global education. There are currently 124 million young people out of school and we must put forward the case for funding education to world leaders, who are gathered here for the 70th United Nations General Assembly.”

The commission will report to the Co-conveners and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has agreed to receive the report and act on its recommendations.

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