Malala Fund co-founders Malala Yousafzai and Ziauddin Yousafzai concluded their visit to Pakistan this week where they held a series of interactions with key stakeholders in education, government, the development community, media, digital cultural creators, students and youth, along with advocates from the Malala Fund Education Champion Network and partners.
In Lahore, Malala Fund Pakistan and its Education Champions Network held a dialogue on “Driving the Girls’ Education Agenda in Pakistan – Current Status and the Way Forward”. The objective of the dialogue was to hear girls’ voices, discuss some of the challenges that are being faced by them on ground and bring stakeholders together to put forward recommendations that bring systemic change through collective and continued efforts.
Speaking at the event, Ziauddin Yousafzai, co-founder of Malala Fund said, “Malala Fund has been operating in Pakistan for 7 years. With our partners, we work to change policy in favour of girls’ education, hold leaders accountable to their commitments on education and amplify girls’ voices. It brings me great pride to see the achievements and partnerships we have made.”
The dialogue was attended by more than 50 participants, including parliamentarians, representatives of the government, NGOs, academia, education experts and school girls, including Mehnaz Akber Aziz, Parliamentary Secretary Law and Justice; Convenor Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights and Co-Chair International Parliamentary Education Network, Manzar Javed Ali, Managing Director, Punjab Education Foundation, Izzah Farrukh, Senior Education Specialist, The World Bank, Dr Omar Mukhtar Khan, Education Governance Expert, Baela Jamil, CEO, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, Haroon Yasin, Co-founder and CEO, Taleemabad and Imama Moin Owaisi, Senior Project Officer, Science Fuse.
During their trip, Malala Yousafzai and Ziauddin Yousafzai met with the Chief Minister [CM] Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi who, on the co-founders raising of the issue of shortage of Science/Mathematics Teachers in high schools, committed to recruit 25,000 teachers in STEM. The CM also approved tabling of a new law in the Punjab assembly, banning corporal punishment. The co-founders’ request to expedite the release of pre-approved funding for STEM PC-1 to further enable the Malala Fund STEAM partnership, was met with a commitment from the office of the Chief Minister. The promotion of secondary school-aged girls’ access to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics [STEAM] education is a major pillar of the Malala Fund in Pakistan who at the Federal level are currently working with the Ministry of Federal Education to implement an ambitious programme on STEAM Education with other partners to reform 13000 government high schools across Pakistan.
Malala Fund Pakistan Director Javed Ahmed Malik said, “We are meeting Waqas Ali Mahmood, Secretary Schools Education, this week to discuss the next steps and continue engagement with the Chief Minister’s office. The government is fully committed to improving education outcomes for girls in Pakistan and Malala Fund will support this work through technical assistance, policy engagement and forging impactful partnerships.”
While in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai sat down for a conversation with both emerging and established voices from Lahore including creators, influencers, digital media and culture stakeholders, for a greater view on Pakistan’s present and future in education, activism, the arts, culture, music, sport and more.
The co-founders were joined by a delegation from Oxford Pakistan Programme [OPP] in Lahore for a discussion at the Lahore University of Management Sciences [LUMS] premised on “Building higher education institutions for 21st century.” Malala Yousafzai joined LUMS Founder, Syed Babar Ali, Dean of LUMS Dr Faisal Bari, Professor Stephen Blyth, Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and Dr Nick Brown, Principal of Linacre College, Oxford, on the discussion panel, following which the co-founders enjoyed Lahore’s cultural heritage with a tour of the old city.
The co-founders last visited Pakistan in October to meet with young women and families from flood-impacted communities in Sindh and called on the international community to increase aid to Pakistan. During the trip, Malala announced Malala Fund’s commitment to pledge $700,000 (PKR 154 million) to organizations in Pakistan to support flood relief.