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Unicef on Tuesday launched an online campaign to mobilise the Indian society to speak up for illiterate children and to spread awareness that one can demand elementary education under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

The campaign, called ‘Awaaz Do’ or ‘Speak Up’, aims to have at least 500,000 people sign up by Jan 24, which is observed as the Girl Child Day.

‘India is home to a growing urban population that can be mobilised into demanding that the goals set forth in the RTE become reality,’ United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) India Representative Karin Hulshof said in a statement.

‘We must continue the momentum to achieve this objective and the middle class can help raise their voices to keep the RTE firmly in the national spotlight,’ she added.

According to Unicef, an estimated eight million children between six and 14 years were out of school in India in 2009. The RTE Act, which came into effect April 1, promises free and compulsory education to children in that age group.

The online campaign will use technology and social networking amply, allowing people to get actively involved and demand the rights for marginalised children.

‘Those who sign up serve as champions for the cause and help build awareness through social media forums, including e-mail, Facebook, SMS and a photography contest,’ Hulshof said.

Bollywood actress and Unicef ambassador Priyanka Chopra and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal have signed up for the campaign that is in association with the Indian government.

‘Creative and sustained initiatives are crucial to train more than one million new and untrained teachers within the next three to five years and reinforce the skills of in-service teachers to ensure child-friendly education,’ the Unicef statement said.

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