Gordon Brown in Pakistan's Daily Jang on Malala
If the Nobel Peace Prize committee was starting their deliberations this morning rather than announcing their results, a 14 year old girl from Pakistan would have been on the list as a candidate for the top global honor.
Malala Yousafzai is today fighting for her life because she has spent her last three years fighting for every girl’s right to a place at school.
Shot by the Taliban, who called girls' education an obscenity, she has now become the worldwide symbol for a child's right to education.
Next Tuesday in Paris we will launch the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report charting worldwide progress in getting children to school.
Parents everywhere will be shocked to find that 61 million children will not be going to school on that day or any other day, 32 million of them girls.
But following the shooting of Malala, the world is waking up to the need for urgent action. A series of offers of assistance have already come in to help deliver security and schooling for girls in Pakistan as part of a groundswell of global support for Malala.
To date, the Chairman of the American Pakistan Foundation, Asad Jamal, has offered to provide support for both security and schooling for Pakistani girls. A second offer has been made by Pakistan-born educationalists in the US to finance scholarships to guarantee education to Pakistani girls. The charity ‘Room to Read’ has also pledged to scale up their efforts for girls' education.
A global education delegation will come to Pakistan next month for high level talks with President Zardari on how to get Pakistan's five million out of school children into education.
The delegation will be accompanied by prominent education experts urging Pakistan's leaders to see the shooting of Malala as a catalyst to speed up education reforms.
The UN initiative Education First, launched in New York last month, will throw its full weight behind an effort to achieve a step-change in Pakistan's educational performance.
We need to clamp down on child labor, child marriage and child soldiers worldwide. We also need to train the 2 million extra teachers desperately needed to get girls and boys the education they deserve
In recent weeks I have been in talks with the Pakistan President Zardari, the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, the Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. I have offered global support if they take radical action on education in Pakistan.
I have talked to the President about expanding the cash support scheme organized by the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Program that incentivizes families to get their children, especially their daughters, to school.
At the same time we talked of expanding the UK-supported project in the Punjab that has already sent an additional one million children to school by insisting on attendance, teacher quality and proper administration.
Parents and pupils in Pakistan know the power of education to change lives. It is the most important single means by which individuals and countries will be enriched and empowered. My aim is that governments, international non-governmental organizations and businesses unite to agree practical proposals. This is one of the ways we will turn the promise of universal education into reality.
Now that this incredibly courageous girl, Malala Yousafzai, has become the representative of millions of forgotten children and a catalyst for hope, we must turn support into action. We must convert the desire and demand of children everywhere for schooling into new schools and classrooms and new teachers and books