UNITED NATIONS -- More than 80 percent of people identify with a religious or spiritual community. And these groups have often been some of the most powerful guardians of basic human rights -- providing security, shelter and education. It is now time to harness this historic goodwill and action of faith-based communities, a group of 5.8 billion people across the globe, to enact significant change for the 58 million children who are out of school.
The Global Faiths Coalition for Education, a group of 30 faith-based organizations from around the world, is quickly becoming a leading force for education. With this week's launch of the #UpForSchool petition, GFC Education takes on the challenge of helping to create the world's biggest petition. The leaders of faith groups have publicly backed education for all, and now we ask that each and every member of their communities show that they, too support the right of every child to go to school.
The #UpForSchool petition calls on governments to make the political commitments and financial investments needed to ensure every child gains their right to education. Children should not be stopped from fulfilling their potential because of their gender, because their schools have been bombed in conflict or because they are forced into work.
This week I was joined by over 500 youth advocates for education and education activists to launch the #UpForSchool petition in New York. World leaders, including the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, have backed the petition. So, too have major faith-based organizations, including the World Evangelical Alliance and Sojourners -- both members of GFC Education.
We can continue to expand the engagement of faith-based communities through #UpForSchool. Each one of these communities can make a huge difference and help to get children who are not in school learning now. If we want this movement to generate the support needed to transform popular advocacy into action by governments, faith groups must encourage their communities to take action.
Faith-based groups and organizations have proven to be the successful drivers of similar campaigns before. Last year, over 400 faith leaders signed on to the Jubilee Debt Campaign, getting their communities involved and taking support for the movement to new levels.
From now until 2015 -- the deadline for us to reach the Millennium Development Goal of universal education -- the GFC Education will be raising its voice, taking action and enlisting the support of faith-based communities globally. The members of the coalition meet in New York City this week to define how their communities will take on the #UpForSchool petition and continue taking action to break down the barriers that keep children out of school. They will talk about how they can take the message out into the community and get their networks active in the drive for universal education.
On Nov. 20, the members of GFC Education will call on each and every one of their supporters to sign the #UpForSchool petition and take action against education injustice. We encourage everyone to do the same.