Malala Yousafzai, who turns 16 on Friday (today), will address as many as 500 students from 80 countries at the UN’s Youth Assembly where the youth will demand education for all. This will be her first public speech after she was targeted by Taliban in October last year.
Malala Day will also feature global events that support UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative. The initiative calls for enrollment of all children in schools, particularly girls by 2015.
As part of the global initiative, Plan International Pakistan will be supported by young girls demanding right to education.
Plan International Pakistan Project Coordinator Iftikhar Mubarak said the initiative called on provincial and federal governments to step up efforts to improve enrollment and learning at schools.
He said in Lahore, 30 young schoolgirls would present a resolution to Minister for Population Welfare Zakia Shahnawaz, demanding that education be a high priority.
A six-point agenda, largely focusing on ensuring access to quality education, larger budget allocation and providing a conducive environment for girls’ education, would be read in Urdu, Punjabi and Seraiki.
Similar resolutions would be shared with government representatives in Sindh, Khyber Pakthunkhwa, Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad.
Mubarak said the activity aimed at helping governments stay committed to the millennium development goals.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2012, which conducted a survey of 244,477 children between three and 16 years in 136 districts of Pakistan showed that 23 percent of school-age children were out of school. Of these, 5 percent had dropped out and 18 percent had never been to schools.
“Girls constitute almost 13 percent of the 23 percent out of school,” Mubarak said.
The Child Rights Movement, a group of 28 child rights and protection organisations, will support the cause in Punjab, in partnership with the PIP.
Child Rights Movement’s Miqdad Naqvi said, “For Pakistani girls, Malala Day should serve as a reminder.”
Naqvi said not much had been done to ensure implementation of Article 25 which made free and compulsory education a right.
Resource allocation and political will are necessary to achieve greater enrollment and better learning.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.