Pakistan marks 'Malala Day'

2012-11-10 14:11

Islamabad - The families of more than 3 million poor children in Pakistan will receive cash stipends if their children go to school, the government said as officials prepared to mark "Malala Day" on Saturday in support of a schoolgirl shot by the Taliban.

UN officials declared Malala Day one month after 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai and two of her classmates were shot by the Pakistan Taliban. She had been targeted for speaking out against the insurgency.

In the days following the shooting, Yousufzai became an international icon and world leaders pledged to support her campaign for girls' education. She is now recovering in a British hospital.

On Friday, Pakistani president Asif Zardari added his signature to petitions signed by more than a million people urging Pakistan to pay stipends to families who put their girls in school in honor of Malala.

"Malala's dreams represent what is best about Pakistan," said former British prime minister Gordon Brown as he presented the petitions to President Zardari.

Tens of thousands of Britons have called on the government to nominate Malala Yousufzai for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work promoting girls' education.

On Friday, the government announced that poor families will now receive $2 a month per child in primary school.

The program will be funded by the World Bank and Britain and distributed through the government's Benazir Income Support Programme, designed to give small cash payments to needy families. The families in the programme already receive $10 a month for basic expenditure.

After a stipend programme was put in place in Pakistan's Punjab province, a World Bank study found a nine percent increase in girls' enrolment over two years, said Alaphia Zoyab, the South Asia campaigner for internet activist group Avaaz.

Pakistan is struggling to overcome widespread poverty, a Taliban insurgency and massive, endemic corruption. Less than 0.57% of Pakistan's 180 million citizens pay income tax, money that the government could use to educate poor children.

Instead, the Pakistani government relies on foreign donors to fund many social programmes.

Britain is due to spend around $1bn on helping Pakistan educate poor children by 2015.

  • Rashida Patel - 2012-11-10 14:34

    Well done ..but what of hundreds of parkistani and afghan little girls killed daily by american drones?

      lownabester - 2012-11-10 14:38

      No Rashida, what about the most horrible conditions these people live in, nothing to do with the USA, but about rich people treating the poor like dirt. You are so way wrong.

      michael.a.devilliers - 2012-11-10 15:31

      Hundreds? Not sure where you get your facts from. Maybe a hundred a year, versus the thousand plus a year killed by suicide bombers and Taliban fighters.

      angela.nair.3 - 2012-11-10 15:36

      BS....The Taliban are killing people in Pakistan and Afghanistan - and please Hundreds of little girls? What an absurd exagerration..... Typical - so its the drones now - never heard from you when Malala and two of her friends got shot - for going to school!

      johnny.williams.5682944 - 2012-11-10 15:53

      @lownabester - Seems you're forgetting that the poor are treated like "dirt" everywhere - like let's see...right here in South Africa.

      johnny.williams.5682944 - 2012-11-10 15:55

      @Rashida Patel - you tell them. Although I think you mean thousands.

  • angela.nair.3 - 2012-11-10 16:05

    Johnny.williams5682944 - Yes you idiot - like Fakir and Naieem. You are a callous idiot - and you obviously using the comments page as a platform for your idiocy. But you will carry on - so carry on being an idiot at everyone else's expense!!! Go on be a fool....

  • marion.wannenberg - 2012-11-11 09:13

    Well done Malala. I hope you get the Nobel Peace Prize, you are so much more deserving than crooked politicians!

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