Youth leaders in Lebanon are standing #UpForSchool

A child performer in #UpForSchool T-shirt on stage at the rally

The following article originally appeared on A World at School’s website

Beirut became the latest major city to rise #UpForSchool today, with more than 200 young leaders raising their voices for the 58 million children who are out of school across the world.

An energetic youth rally and petition drive was led by A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors in Lebanon – which is home to 1.2 million Syrian refugee children.

High-level guests included United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, Lebanese education minister Elias Bou Saab and British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher. They witnessed performances, campaign videos and youth-led entertainment at the American University of Beirut, followed by a mass signing of the #UpForSchool Petition.

It calls on world leaders to keep their promise to get every child into school without fear of danger or discrimination and has gathered more than 5.5 million signatures so far.

Other rallies have been held in New York, London, Nairobi, Kinshasa and Monrovia.

The event was hosted by Salyne El Samarany, CEO of Teach For Lebanon and a 2014 UN Youth Courage Award winner. She told the audience about the work of A World at School and said: “We must ensure every child’s basic right to go to school is realised.”

Salyne El Samarany, CEO of @TeachForLebanon, tells #UpForSchool youth event in Beirut every child must be in school

— A World at School (@aworldatschool) May 26, 2015

UK Ambassador Mr Fletcher said: “You have the power. You have two amazing things.” Holding up a smartphone, he continued: “You have the means to connect with people all over the world and you also have the education which gives you the means to change the world. Use the power that you have.”

Education minister Mr Bou Saab held up an #UpForSchool T-shirt and told the audience: “You can win wars through education.” He added: “We are committed to do our best to achieve what the UN signed for in 2000. With your help we are getting there. With the funding from the international community we are able to make progress.”

Education minister Elias Bou Saab with an #UpForSchool T-shirt

Education envoy Mr Brown talked about the double-shift system being used in Lebanese schools, which allows both Lebanese and Syrian refugee children to be taught. He said – thanks to the tireless efforts of Mr Bou Saab and the support of the international community – that 100,000 Syrian children were already being taught this way. Eventually, 300,000 girls and boys will have the right to free education through the double-shift system. Mr Brown added: “I met a boy this morning and I asked him: ‘What do you want to be?’ He said to me: “I want to be an engineer’. And when I asked him why, he said: ‘I want to rebuild Syria’. We should work night and day so that he does have the chance to rebuild Syria.”

Annemiek Hoogenboom from the People’s Postcode Lottery  addressed the event and a video was played with an #UpForSchool message of support from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. A refugee girl called Noor told how her family had fled from Syria to neighbouring Lebanon.

Noor tells #UpForSchool Beirut rally: “My family decided to leave Syria after our school bus was terrorised.”

— A World at School (@aworldatschool) May 26, 2015

Mira Hamoun, an A World at School Global Youth Ambassador from Lebanon, spoke about technology being the language of the future generation and of harnessing its power to change the world.

She added: “Education is a stepping stone towards a successful life.”

Global Youth Ambassador Mira Hatoum at #UpForSchool Beirut event: “Education is stepping stone to successful life.”

— A World at School (@aworldatschool) May 26, 2015

Young people from the Mouvement Social Group performed a piece about what it is like to be growing up as a refugee from a conflict.

Syrian children performing a heart warming act about their situation because of the war. #upforschool

— DOT Lebanon (@DOTLebanon) May 26, 2015

Muslim Aid Lebanon Country Director Ahmad Fawzi handed in 12,000 signatures for the #UpForSchool Petition – which is just a fraction of the amazing 1.4 million names they have collected in total.

Amazing! @Muslim_Aid has collected 1.4m #UpForSchool Petition signatures. Presents 12k of them at Beirut youth rally

— A World at School (@aworldatschool) May 26, 2015

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