I was born in Barry, a seaside town in Wales. Both my mother and my father worked there as police officers. My father came from a coal mining village and was one of seven children. That hard start in life meant he wasn't able to finish school or go on to college or university. Like so many parents, he and my mother wanted to ensure that my older sister and I would be better off, that we'd get a better education and use it to advance later in life. When I was four, he and my mother moved us to Australia where I was educated and later, far beyond my parents' dreams, I became Prime Minister.
Education is crucial in every person's life
That's not to say that education is the only factor that determines whether any of us will reach our full potential, but in my case I know education played a crucial role. Certainly, without education, we don't stand much of a chance.
Most of us understand almost intuitively that, with education, each of us can take charge of our own lives. We can prosper intellectually, socially, and financially and contribute to the building of the communities, nations and, indeed, the world in which we live. The value of education is so self-evident that we too often take it for granted, and neglect to do what's necessary to make it available to all who need it.
Take action for education
The Global Partnership for Education along with the Global Poverty Project, Plan International, RESULTS, Global Campaign for Education, A World at School, UNICEF and dozens of other partners is launching the #BecauseOfSchool campaign. This campaign seeks to celebrate the value of education while drawing attention to the 57 million children who are deprived of this basic human right every day, and the more than 250 million children who either fail to make it to grade 4 or do not reach the minimum level of reading, writing, and doing math by the time they reach grade 4.
#BecauseOfSchool is a chance for us all to look back on what a good education has given us and the opportunities it opened up in life. Education makes us who we are, and going to school gave us all something invaluable which nobody can take away. Whether it was the start of a lifelong passion, a career or even a best friend, we all benefited from the most basic opportunities that education provides.
Here's how #BecauseOfSchool works:
Between now and June 26, when the world's leaders meet in Brussels to commit funds to education at the Global Partnership for Education's Replenishment Conference, we're inviting you and others to tell the world what you've achieved #BecauseOfSchool, what your education gave you or how it helped you become who you are today.Share your #BecauseOfSchool story on social media. Here are some creative ideas:
- Take a picture of something special in your life which was only possible #BecauseOfSchool
- Find an old photo of yourself for "Throwback Thursday" on May 29, June 5, 12, 19 or 26 and tag #BecauseOfSchool
- Take a selfie with your best friend whom you met #BecauseOfSchool
- Write your #BecauseOfSchool message on blackboard or notepad and take a picture
Why join the campaign?
Because if we don't invest in education, we will miss a unique opportunity to lift millions of people out of poverty by giving them the basic skills they need to escape a life of poverty. Over the next month, we need to do everything we can to make sure that world leaders understand and feel the urgency of committing to getting all children a primary education.
In the past decade, the Global Partnership for Education, whose board I chair, helped get 22 million children into school by working with developing countries.
Now the Global Partnership is working with more developing countries than ever. We have the momentum to change more lives than ever before, including girls, children with disabilities and those living in fragile and conflict-affected places.
But all that can be lost.
The more people share their stories, the more we can push global leaders towards taking action and making substantial financial pledges for education on June 26, 2014.
Education is a right we all have. So join us and tell your story so that nobody can ever forget it, again.
Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education, the only global multilateral partnership devoted to getting all children in school and learning.