Last Wednesday, 20 smart, passionate and inspiring 14 and 15 year olds from across the UK assembled in London for a day of action in Parliament. Their mission? To call on MPs and decision makers to address the global learning crisis and invest more money in global education through the Global Partnership for Education.
This guest blog on the day comes from Lucy Owen, one of the 20 Campaign Champions representing 300,000 young people.
I’m a year 9 student who has spent the last year campaigning for Send my Friend to School, who are fighting for every child to have access to a quality education.
Last Wednesday, we as Campaign Champions went to Parliament to represent the 300,000 young people taking action for Send My Friend across the country. It was an amazing, jam-packed 36 hours.
It started the night before, where we were reunited with our fellow Campaign Champions. It was really great to see them again, after meeting in April for a training weekend, particularly as we had all stayed in touch. We spent some time preparing for our meetings with parliamentarians and had the opportunity to practise and refine what we would say. We received our agenda and took last-minute notes on any important facts and figures that we thought we might be able to use.
We all awoke really early the next morning, and left at 8am after a quick breakfast. We caught the tube to Parliament Square, where we spent some time creating a photo stunt for the campaign, before receiving a whistle-stop tour of Parliament. I really enjoyed this, as it was really interesting to see in real life the places where some of the most important decisions affecting our lives are made.
We then met former members of the International Development Committee in a mock evidence session where we, as the Campaign Champions, had the opportunity to ask questions and hear about the work these influential people are doing to achieve universal education. The same applied when we met with the Special Envoy to the Foreign Office, Joanne Roper. Everyone had the chance to ask the ‘experts’ about their role in achieving education for all.
Following this, we met with our constituency MPs and convinced them to act on the views of their constituents, showing them the puzzle pieces and campaigning we’d led in our communities as part of the Send My Friend campaign.
After a quick look in the Common’s Public Gallery, a few of us went to Downing Street to hand-in a book representing all the campaigning taking place across the country. The rest of us met with Alistair Burt, a Minister in the Department for International Development, to ask him to commit to investing in education for all through the Global Partnership for Education.
At the end of our day, we each exchanged heartfelt goodbyes and promises to stay in touch, before leaving to our respective homes in different cities. It felt like a really successful day, where our views were listened to by some of the most senior politicians, and where we felt like we had made a difference, despite the campaigning and convincing that is (very probably!) still to do.
I’d like to thank anyone who helped make the wonderful, crazy day happen, particularly everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with us.