Regretting the attack on teenage rights activist Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan’s Minister of Education and Training Sardar Shahjehan Yousaf on Friday described her as a symbol of “courage” and “confidence” who stood up for girls’ education and said she would be back soon.
The 15-year-old girl, who was shot in the head by Taliban for leading a campaign for girls’ education, is currently recuperating at a hospital in Birmingham, England.
“Malala has come out of dark time where school was shut...the girl stood up for education. She came out. She has shown more courage for the girls of my country and for the world. She is a symbol for courage, confidence,” Mr. Yousaf said.
Observing that terrorism remains a big challenge for his country, he said the “incident (attack on her) was unfortunate and in our country and internationally we regret what happened. We are fighting against terror.”
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the E-9 education conference in New Delhi, he said Pakistan needs quality teacher training and good schools as it strives to attain E-9’s mandate of education for all, but lamented that “our budget goes to defence because of terrorism activities”.
Malala, he said, is “recovering very well” and will come back to the country soon.
E-9 represents the nine most populous countries in the world, home to not only more than 60 per cent of the global population, but also to more than 70 per cent of the world’s adult illiterates, of whom about two-thirds are women and girls.
One of the goals of the forum is education for all by 2015.
Speaking at the conference, Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor felt the goal of education for all cannot be achieved globally if they are not achieved by E-9 countries.
He, however, noted that some countries may face greater challenges than others in meeting the ‘education for all’ goals by the 2015 target date, and that the quality problem is more acute in the developing world.
“Now that we are only three years away from the 2015 deadline, it is imperative that we scale up our efforts in a final attempt to reach the EFA goals,” he said.
But at the same time, the E 9 countries should also have to start thinking of the future agenda, i.e. the agenda beyond 2015, he said.
While it is important to make an analysis of where we are in 2012, he said that it was necessary to examine what are the critical factors which affect our efforts in reaching the EFA goals.