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LAHORE: Governor Chaudhry Sarwar has expressed his concern that about 5.4 million children in the country are out of school while the deadline for achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is drawing near by the end of this year.

The governor was speaking at a press briefing on the “UpForSchool” Signature Campaign and its action plan at the Governor House on Saturday.

The briefing was a ‘call for action’ for all the educationists, civil society organisations, members of the business community, education stakeholders and individuals across Punjab to endorse the signature campaign and stand up to ensure the right to education to all children without any discrimination.

The “UpForSchool” Signature Campaign, a global movement, has been launched by A World at School (AWAS), in collaboration with the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, to get every child into school. Globally 58m children are out of school and with Pakistan having the second highest number of such children.

The governor stressed the need for mobilising all the stakeholders and citizens within his jurisdiction to work towards deal with the educational crisis in Pakistan and to get the needed attention and effort with this simple initiative.

Mr Sarwar urged all the universities, colleges, schools, businesses, parents and the civil society to participate in the campaign petition by collecting the signatures by Feb 28, 2015. He said he had mobilised over 1,000 university girls demanding Right To Education For All during UN Global Envoy for Education Sir Gordon Brown’s visit to Pakistan in March last year.

He said the Pakistani youth was talented and brave and could meet any challenges. He also acknowledged the bravery of Aitzaz Hasan for sacrificing his life to save his school fellows while blocking a suicide bomber from hitting his school last year.

Earlier, ITA Director Programmes Baela Raza Jamil said the “UpForSchool” petition was the appeal by the world’s youth, teachers, parents and global citizens to their governments to keep their promise made at the United Nations in the year 2000 – to ensure that all out-of-school children get their right to education before the end of 2015.

In Pakistan, she said, this signature campaign aimed at collecting three million signatures before Jan 31 and assist Sarah Gordon Brown in applying for a new Guinness World Record as the campaign seeks to build the world’s largest petition.

The petition was signed by Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, all vice chancellors, educationists and parents.

Published in Dawn January 11th , 2014

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