January 14, 2015
Idara Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) alongside A World At School (AWAS) have kickstarted a global movement named ‘Up for School’ designed to collect signatures and put forth the world’s largest petition geared towards getting children in schools all across Pakistan. The ‘Up for School’ campaign is a spinoff of the global movement headed by Gordon and Sarah Brown, fighting to make educational equality a universal truth. 2015 is an exceptionally significant year since it shall see the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Henceforth, we must reexamine our educational backdrop and evaluate our course of action for the time to come. The latest global statistics state that 58 million children around the world are unfortunately out of school for a plethora of interconnected reasons. Lack of education verily leads to a vicious cycle of adverse impacts that Pakistan would do well to get rid of. However, Pakistan is ranked as having the second highest number of out of school children. Pakistan contributes around 23 million to these statistics. The ‘UpForSchool’ signature campaign launched on September 22, 2014 in a New York rally with members of the UN General Assembly is therefore, a universal petition to bring together everyone, who shares and endorses the common belief that every child has the right to go to school without danger and without discrimination.
The petition as such is a reminder of the promises made back in 2000, it is an endorsement by all those who stand up to bring an end to the barriers preventing girls and boys from going to school, including forced work and early marriage, conflict and attacks on schools, exploitation, health concerns, poverty, hunger and discrimination. What started as a global dream has become a more streamlined and specified effort now as we move our focus towards Pakistan: In Pakistan this signature campaign aims to collect 3 million signatures before January 31, 2015 and assist Sarah Brown in applying for a new Guinness World Record, as the campaign seeks to build the world’s largest petition.
In orderto facilitate this vision The Governor of Punjab – Mr. Mohammad Sarwar and Mrs. Baela Raza Jamil – Trustee/Advisor ITA – therefore arranged a press briefing on the ‘UpForSchool’ Signature Campaign and its action plan thereof, at the Governor House, Lahore on January 10, 2015. The Governor kindly opened his house and the floor for this cause to be discussed and propagated further. The gathering also included many pertinent figures from the civil society, educational sector, and government bodies. It truly was a concrete and resounding ‘Call for Action’ for all the vice-chancellors, Civil Society Organizations, Members of the Business Community, Education Stakeholders and individuals all across Punjab. The attendees called for this mission to be endorsed readily and to stand up to ensure the ‘Right to Education’ (RTE) as per article 25A of the Pakistani constitution, to all children without any discrimination. The governor sought it important to sensitize and mobilize all the stakeholders and citizens within his jurisdiction to work towards curbing the educational crisis in Pakistan and to get the needed attention and effort via this simple initiative so as to impel provision of quality and inclusive education by those in the higher echelons of power.
This jamboree was a real and traceable step towards the future by the Punjab government towards the betterment of Pakistan. It was an articulation of optimism and resolve that promised the fulfillment of many goals and dreams.