Defining the focus of the activities of the Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education and how its US$ 10 million will be allocated were key topics of discussion during the official visit of the UNESCO Assistant Director-General of Education, Qian Tang, to the capital of Pakistan on 21 July 2013.
The Minister of State for Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education, Baligh Ur Rahman, and Mr Tang agreed that the focus of the Malala Fund’s activities should concentrate on quality education for girls.
Quality education is gaining ground on the global education landscape as it also plays a central role in the United Nations’ Post-2015 Development Agenda and the United Nations Secretary- General’s Global Education First Initiative, whose Technical Secretariat is based at UNESCO.
Stemming from a US$ 10 million initial contribution from the Government of Pakistan, the Malala Fund will support initiatives based in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. It will be housed in a special fund and a fund-in-trust. The fund-in-trust of US$7 million will be used in Pakistan and the special fund of US$3 million will be used by UNESCO in Afghanistan. Around 80% of the fund will be used to enhance formal education and the remaining 20% will be used to support non-formal education.
Signed into agreement by the Director-General of UNESCO and the Government of Pakistan on the United Nations Day for Human Rights, 10 December 2012, the Malala Fund is dedicated to 16-year-old Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, who in October 2012 was the target of an assassination attempt by the Taliban due to her activism for education and women’s rights in the Swat Valley, Pakistan. Malala has strived to give new impetus to providing access to school for all girls by 2015.
During the December ceremony, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova underlined the Malala Fund’s potential for far-reaching impact stating, “Girls’ education is a basic right – it’s also a lever for development that benefits the whole of society; girls and boys, men and women.” The Director-General’s full statement is available here.
The Islamabad meeting was also attended by representatives from the Ministry, the UNESCO Secretariat, and the UNESCO Office in Islamabad.