Today 57 million children in the world have no access to schools. Several more millions are taught by unqualified teachers or leave school benches early to go to work or to get married. Today more than ever we have a chance to influence this situation and we can also change it. You, he, she and myself of course too.
„When the Taliban decided to attack Malala Yousafzai last September, little did they realise that they would help awaken a sleeping giant and mobilising a generation of young people to say loudly that enough is enough. Going to school should not make anyone a target and education should be accessible to all. We gather in New York to announce the start of a movement that is not going to falter until that fundamental human right – and the single biggest investment for a more peaceful, democratic and prosperous future — EDUCATION — so that it becomes a reality for all!” writes Chernor Bah, youth advocate and refugee from Sierra Leone in Huffington Post.
On Friday 12th July on the occassion of „Malala Day”, namely on 16th birthday of the Pakistani activist , around 600 young leaders from 75 countries will converge at the United Nations forum. They will meet to discuss what in their view is the most important thing for millions of the youngest ones – problem of education in the world and lack of access to schools. They want to make the opportunity of acquiring education, profession, independence and better future accessible to eveyone. Malala Yousafzai will also make a speech, a first one since the failed attempt on her life.
The meeting at the UN forum is the effect of multiple campaigns and mobilisation of people around the topic of education. Today more than ever we have a possibility to communicate with each other and unify around the common goals, and the power of masses can be seen in the media every day. Internet has changed our lifes forever and it has become a parallel battle field. People can now be called together for a manifestation, or a bar can be saved without leaving the house. If it is possibile then to save a milk bar, why would it be impossible to send a child to school? Is it because the milk bar is just around the corner and the child is few thousand kilometers away? The world has shrinked, this is also a fact. In relaity, one has to do the same as about saving the bar – click, take a picture, join, support and say „no”.
From this simple (but really effective) idea, the campaign GIRLWITHABOOK and later its Polish edition – Dziewczynka z książką was born. In order to suport the movement, one has to only take a picture with a book and a sign “I stand with Malala”. All the pictures collected together will form a photo album and the profits from its sales will be dedicated towards the purchase of books for Pakistani school libraries. Why Pakistan? Because it is a country that really needs it and Malala rightly turned our attention to it. Opponents will probably say that this is supporting terrorists, but it is quite the opposite – if these small Pakistani boys don’t have an alternative in a form of civil schools, they will end up studying in coran schools. Education for this region is therefore a right way to suppress the conservative education and upbringing. When it comes to the situation of girls, over 3 million Pakistani girls are deprived of the opportunity for education. This is more than 3 million too much.
We need to also be aware that education is the most sensible aid we can offer to developing countries. Without the external financial aid, Pakistan would not be able to manage on its own and even with it, approx. 60% of inhabitants there live for under 2 dollars a day. Our common interest should be to help Pakistan and other developing countries in becoming more independent. We need to teach them how to count, read, write, open businesses, get profession, namely help in a way that will then aid them in lifting up their country themselves.
Even though the process of education of the regions, in which educational system practically does not exist will be a long-term and not obstacle-free process, we should not give up. Malala, a teenage girl, who nearly lost her life for her beliefs, is an example of extraordinary determination and courage, as well as an evidence of rightness of her convictions. Today, she is supported by millions of people in the world. Our Polish edition, despite being relatively new, has already collected nearly a thousand of photos.
„I stand here today, because my story is the exception. And that is not right. Thousands of my friends, younger siblings, and millions more around the world – a whopping 61 million are out of school. That is not right. And it is not right that if I were a girl, my chances of being here would be even slimmer. It is plain wrong that our generation gets deprived of the incredible potential of girls and young women to end poverty, because so many girls marry and start having children when they are still children themselves, instead of staying in school. And it is simply not right that being born in countries like mine, in rural areas, with disabilities or being part of a certain class, caste, ethnicity or even religion can mean that education is just a dream, rarely attained”, Chernor Bah was saying a year ago.
Today, there is only 4 million less children deprived of access to schools than a year ago, when Chernor Bah was expressing his words. This is also not right. Let’s make this process faster together.