Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize laureate and advocate for girls education, has been urging world leaders to guarantee a 12-year education to all refugee children. Yousafzai’s statement comes at a timely moment just before the U.N. meets for its 71st session to discuss the status of 21 million refugees.
As BreakingNews points out, more children than ever are going to be spending their time in schools as refugees. Malala won’t be at the assembly this year, though her input will be present through a report she is sending from the Malala Fund, which she and her father founded.
Yousafzai said in an interview that, “It’s not just giving attendance, a bit of food that will protect these families in the future, it is also education. You give education to the children of these families and you guide them and you make their future.”
Malala is busy studying for exams and applying to universities, but she is still active in the community. She hopes to get the international community to raise €2.18 billion for the Education Cannot Wait fund by 2019. The fund helps children in financially and communally bad situations, including refugees.
Half of the refugees that have been reported are children, notes Farah Jamil for Aaj News. Most of the refugees come from Burundi, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Syria, where fighting was continued throughout last year.
“Why do world leaders waste our time with this pageant of sympathy while they are unwilling to do the one thing that will change the future for millions of children? They have the potential to help rebuild safe, peaceful, prosperous countries, but they can’t do this without education,” Says Yousefzai.
Malala garnered global attention in 2012 when her campaign for women’s right to an education sparked an assassination attempt by the Taliban. The Taliban shot Malala in the head, which caused outcry across the world.
Nearly 80 percent of teenage refugees are not in school, and the majority of that number are women, writes Tom Gardner for the Huffington Post.
Malala has received not only her Nobel Peace Prize, but also Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.
“Education is crucial. I understand that you understand that, people understand that but when it comes to world leaders’ decision making, they completely ignore it, as if they have no knowledge and are completely ignorant,” continued Malala.
One of the most significant challenges facing refugees is the high number of primary school age children dropping out and getting married or pregnant. Malala hopes that with proper education funding and easier access to education for refugees, the number of dropouts will decrease dramatically.
Wear The City points out that Malala was named one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine. Ever since she stepped into international media coverage, Yousafzai has used the publicity to promote education and women’s rights.
“They’re hoping for more than survival. And they have the potential to help rebuild safe, peaceful, prosperous countries, but they can’t do this without education,” Yousafzai said.