Mark Wood, design director at brand strategists The Partners, on the campaign he runs to help give all children access to an education.
So what’s the big idea?
The main goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of the 59million children around the world who, due to factors including child labour, early marriage, conflict and discrimination, are unable to attend school.
A World At School, an initiative by children’s charity Theirworld, came to us for help. They needed a grassroots campaign that no government could ignore – one that could be spearheaded by young people from all over the planet fighting for the rights of every child to have an education.
With this in mind, we planned a campaign that would be both simple to replicate and instantly recognisable. For that we would need a tool-kit – something to equip those campaigning, whether they were going door to door or organising a rally, and give them a sense of unity and common purpose.
All charities still rely heavily on face-to-face interaction, which is why our youth ambassadors have been so crucial to the campaign.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea UpForSchool was an instant winner and soon became a call to action. We could attach a hashtag to social media: Stand #UpForSchool, Sign #UpForSchool.
We were shown lots of images of children in different learning environments: in classrooms, in abandoned buildings or just outside. But there was always just one constant – every child had a school exercise book. That ever-present schoolbook was turned upside down and became an arrow pointing upwards, the UpForSchool logo, a symbol for education.
Who brought the idea to life?
The Partners created the identity but it didn’t really come to life until the youth ambassadors started to embrace it. Across the world these ambassadors have created posters and placards and even sold UpForSchool cupcakes.
A big part of the success of the campaign came from the support of its celebrity ambassadors – Rod Stewart, Shakira, Lewis Hamilton and even Justin Bieber have all signed up.
What were the main obstacles?
One of the challenges we faced was turning digital social interaction into actual signatures. For instance, when Justin Bieber signed up, although his Facebook post gathered over 300,000 likes, only a very small proportion actually went on to sign the petition.
Why should people care about this idea in particular?
If you are reading this article, then the chances are you’ve had an education. There are millions of children around the world who are not as lucky as you. I encourage you to sign the petition to help UpForSchool make things right.
What makes it special?
Not only is the campaign the largest education petition in the world and the largest petition ever to be delivered in the UN, it has become a global movement – millions of people from all around the world have come to understand the protection and value of an education to a young person’s future. And so, for many, holding a schoolbook above their head has become a physical representation of the UpForSchool logo and the protection that education can give.
What are your hopes?
Some of our hopes have already started to come true and it is this campaign that has made a real difference so far. We have started to see progress in Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and many of the West African countries that were affected by the Ebola outbreak.
Our hope is that the UN will now put some serious measures into place to protect the basic right of all children to an education.
The physical petition (yes, all 8million-and-counting signatures) will be presented to the UN next Monday along with a massive youth rally and march through the streets of New York.