Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai reads a book as she recuperates in a British hospital after being shot by the Taliban
By Gordon Brown
THE world has a new heroine and it also has a new cause.
And round the globe this week country after country is adopting MALALA, the 15-year-old Pakistan girl shot by the Taliban, as their symbol for a girl's right to education.
This week a campaign has been launched to offer her the Nobel Peace prize and today is MALALA DAY to celebrate her courage. As long as there are girls out of school anywhere in the world Malala will be their beacon of hope.
Visiting Pakistan, and everywhere I go the message is the same: we are all with Malala. I saw a rickshaw driven by an ordinary uneducated trader travelling the streets of the town with a placard 'Malala for education and peace'.
Visit the local girls school as I did and you will find every pupil with either drawings of Malala, songs about her or letters and cards written to her.
This morning I met civil society organisations all of who are finding their support for their campaigns massively on the increase.
Today I met with the President of Pakistan exactly one month after the terrible shooting to discuss Malala's dream of education for all.
On the eve of Malala Day, I presented petitions already signed by over 1 million people in the international community in honour of Malala Yousofzai.
These signatures were joined with another one million signatures collected by Pakistani civil society's One Million Signature Campaign to demand free and compulsory education and another 100,000 signatures from out-of-school Pakistani children who want to go to school.
I made this presentation of petitions to President Zardari in front of 500 people, including young children from the Swat Valley. This presentation is matched by civil society's aim to collect the signatures of one million out-of-school children demanding their right to education by January.
The President and I agreed on a series of a timetable with deadlines to make sure we do everything we can to ensure all of Pakistan's five million out of school children have the opportunity to go to school.
Pakistan has today requested to join the Accelerated Millennium Development Goal Framework process that will allow the country to assess its current education plans, strategies and bottlenecks in consultation with international organizations and then work together to contribute to Pakistan's dream of education for all.
A deadline for an agreement on an accelerated plan for reaching MDG 2 has been set for April 2013 when the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, President of the World Bank Jim Kim and myself, alongside the heads of major international agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and the Global Partnership for Education, will meet in Washington with the Ministers of Education and Finance of Pakistan. We will harness international and domestic support for realizing the 2015 goal.
The April meeting will be preceded by five months of intensive in-country work with the Pakistan government, civil authorities and foundations, and international organizations to ensure that a detailed, budgeted plan delivers quality education for every girl and boy with teachers, books and classrooms by 2015.
I have suggested to the President that he consider involving all educational organisations from civil society interested in achieving the universal goal in the processes.
Across Pakistan and the world, young people are preparing to commemorate Malala Day on November 10th.
Malala's dreams represent what is best about our world. Thirty two million girls should not be denied their right to schooling any longer.
Children who are barred anywhere across the globe from school today and have the right to education should be provided quality learning opportunities as quickly as possible.
I have said that the international community will work to provide financial and technical support to any country as long as it also makes a domestic commitment and delivers its commitment to put education first.
And with ten million children not going to school NIGERIA too is ready to advance and deliver on its own educational goal of schooling for all children.
Here too the people and the international community share the same goals and now the issue is delivery.
Can we work together to build the schools, train the teachers, provide the learning materials, and ensure that there is no discrimination against girls?
I BELIEVE WE CAN. Join the petition for universal education on www.educationenvoy.org.
* Former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown is UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Global Education