Youth leaders in Lebanon are standing #UpForSchool

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

Lebanese youth at #UpForSchool rally with Gordon Brown

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.

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

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.

The audience listens to a passionate speech by Gordon Brown 

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.”

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.

Gordon Brown urges action for Syrian refugee children

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.

Gordon Brown listens to a performer on stage

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.

Mira Hatoum, 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.”

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.

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.

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

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