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Malala education fund established
Pakistan and UNESCO signed a memorandum establishing a fund to honour the girls’-education activist who was shot by the Taliban.
By Yasir Rehman
PARIS – To promote girls’ education in Pakistan and other countries with the support of the international community, Pakistan and UNESCO December 10 established The Malala Fund for Girls’ Education.
The UN also named Malala Yousafzai’s father a special advisor on global education. Malala, a 15-year-old activist for girls’ education, survived an October 9 assassination attempt by the Taliban in Mingora. She is recovering in England.
Pakistan and UNESCO officials signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) creating the fund, with Pakistan contributing US $10m (Rs. 970m). The ceremony took place at an event, "Stand Up for Malala, Girls’ Education Is a Right," held in Paris to promote girls’ education and to mark Human Rights Day.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari attended the event, which was organised by UNESCO and the Pakistani government and which sought to accelerate political action ensuring every girl’s education as an urgent priority in achieving education for all.
The fund will consist of a revenue account and other modalities for managing funds for programmatic activities for the betterment of girl's education.
Tributes for Malala
Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father, will become a UN special advisor on global education, said former British prime minister Gordon Brown, the UN special envoy for global education.
Yousafzai is a former teacher and headmaster and was appointed to help enact a "Malala Plan" to have all girls worldwide attending school by the end of 2015, Brown said.
"Before she was shot, Malala was advocating the cause of girls’ education faced by a Taliban that had closed down and destroyed 600 schools," he said. "If the Taliban sought to vanquish her voice once and for all, they failed."
Brown said that Malala’s voice has become the ultimate symbol for girls worldwide who are seeking the right to a proper education.
"In time Malala herself is determined to join the campaign for every girl’s right to education, and when she has recovered she will do so, becoming one of the leaders of that campaign," Brown added.
"Malala is a symbol of enlightened Pakistan," said Zardari, who December 8 visited Malala at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, to check her condition and to honour her courage.
The Pakistani nation’s spontaneous response to the cowardly attack on her and her friends demonstrates that it rejects extremism and militancy, he said, adding the nation is proud of Malala and her schoolmates, Shazia and Kainat, who also survived gunshot wounds.
The government is determined to provide all children, particularly girls, with access to education, he said, adding that its response will be to further promote education and to fight the extremist mind-set wherever it finds it. The government will defeat those who want to deny girls their rightful place in society, he added.
While the events in Paris might have drawn the headlines, in Islamabad, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf paid tribute to Malala at an event honouring Human Rights Day.
"The way the whole nation came together in support of Malala Yousafzai reflects the national consensus and the will of the nation to protect its values, culture, and way of life," he said. "This antidote against the extremist mind-set provides continuity and stability to democratic institutions."
Education for all
Under the MoU regarding the fund, UNESCO’s main aim is to ensure education for girls in compliance with the UN secretary-general’s Global Initiative on Education and the UNESCO Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education.
The programme seeks to improve access to schools for girls at all levels, ensure gender sensitivity in education, and "eliminate school-related gender-based violence," according to UNESCO.
It also will raise awareness about the particular challenges for girls seeking education but also about the role their education will play in accelerating human development.
Referring to the attempt to kill Malala, the MoU praised her courage and said she had become a global icon, raising support for girls’ education globally.
UNESCO expressed appreciation for the Pakistani government’s efforts to protect and promote girls’ education domestically and abroad and expressed hope that the world community would help Pakistan in this matter. It offered its full support to Pakistan in those efforts and re-affirmed its commitment to education for all, particularly for girls.