The right to girls' education is the fight for a better world
Joined by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, Anthony Lake and Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post- 2015 Development Planning, Khalique spoke Thursday at the launch of “Education transforms lives,” a new analysis by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report confirming that progress in education is pivotal to the success of post-2015 priorities, including poverty eradication, health, environmental sustainability, governance and women’s empowerment. Education has unrivalled power to reduce extreme poverty and boost wider development goals, according to highlights pre-released from 2013-2014Report. The analysis is released ahead of the UN General Assembly discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.
“Education has the power to change the world and that each of you holds this power,” Irina Bokova told guests at the event, held at at the Mary Lindley Murray Primary School in New York. “I remember a slogan I saw in May inscribed on the walls of a girl’s school in Kabul, Afghanistan. It said: My pen is my sword. Because education is a force for peace, for tolerance, and mutual understanding.”
“There are 57 million children who don’t have a classroom to go to,” said Anthony Lake, adding that universal access to education is just the first step. “It’s not just getting kids into school. It’s keeping them in school and learning in school,” The Executive Director of UNICEF said.
“Education must also be lifelong learning,” said Amina Mohammed.
Three students presented copies of “Education transforms lives”to Mohammed and asked that she share the document with UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon.
“Rich or poor, far or near, everyone deserves an education. Education gives everyone an equal chance to succeed in life," said student Kevin Ourvan.
One of Khalique ‘s pupils was Malala Yousafzai a teenager who nearly one year ago survived an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen who shot her in the head and neck while returning home on a school bus. That attack, she said, “has knocked at the door of every man and woman’s conscience.”
“Malala’s courage reminds us that the right of girls to quality education is the fight for a better world,” said Bokova.
“Where I come from many people don’t know the value of education. It’s shocking when we talk about girls’ rights… Education should be a right that is taken for granted like it is here in the United States,” said Khalique, who was visiting an American public school for the first time.
The launch was held in the school’s sunlit music room that has an upright piano, guitars and drums as well as plastic bins of maracas, bells and cymbals. A black treble clef and sixteenth notes hang like ornaments from the florescent overhead lights.
When asked what her first impression was of the classroom, Khalique said, “They are blessed with so much,” adding, “It makes me a little sad.”
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