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Gordon Brown creates 'Malala Day' in support of young activist

06th November 2012 16:21:53

Whilst many children see school as a chore, Malala Yousafzai had a rather different view. The 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl has dedicated the last few years of her life to campaigning for the right to an education, so when the Taliban carried out a cold-blooded attack in an attempt to assassinate her,  the world was shocked.

Gordon Brown was no exception. As the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, the former Prime Minister has announced the 10th November as a ‘global day of action’ to support Malala Yousafzai  and her goals.

‘Malala day’ is intended to honour the sacrifice made by the young girl, giving people worldwide an opportunity to support the cause that she represents: a girl’s right to education. The tribute will coincide with his trip to Pakistan where Brown will deliver a petition holding over one million signatures to President Asif Al Zardari, urging him to make education a reality for all Pakistani children regardless of their gender.

Besides attempting to influence President Zardari, Brown’s ‘Malala day’ also highlights to the world the extent of the education problem. Writing for both BBC News and The Huffington Post, Gordon Brown drew attention to a number of statistics from UNESCO reports which show that 61 million children do not receive an education; 32 million of which are girls. Of these children, five million are in Pakistan and three million of those are female.

This lack of education is something echoed across other parts of the Indian sub-continent as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the UN Millennium Development Goals, it seems that inequality and inaccessibility in education is still a widespread phenomenon.

Gordon Brown aims to change this. He believes that the action taken in the last few weeks will inspire world leaders to change education policy. His day of action comes alongside other initiatives including the ‘Malala Yousafzai Children’s Education Institute which will publish research reports on children without access to education, and ‘Education First’, launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. This initiative aims to bring together every UN and World Bank agency concerned with education to offer poor performing Governments, including that of Pakistan, a chance to improve their learning systems. Each government will be asked to draw up a plan of precise needs and strategies not only to clamp down on gender discrimination in education but also to address problems of child labour and child marriage.

With hopes that both the petition and Malala’s activism will encourage President Zardari to change his country's education policy, Gordon Brown intends to help with these strategies in his visit to Pakistan in April 2013.  

There can be no doubt that Malala Yousafzai truly is an extraordinary young girl. Inspiring others to take action for something she holds so dear is an incredible feat for such a young activist, and it is very clear that Gordon Brown intends to honour what she has started.

"Malala's personal campaign may have been halted temporarily," he says, "but the millions who now speak up on her behalf must now come together as one in the run up to 10 November so that we must wait no longer for action on education."

Could this be the start of a radical change in education for Pakistan and other countries across Asia and Africa?

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