On Saturday, the UN Education Envoy Gordon Brown will deliver the Avaaz campaign signed by over 855,000 citizens from across the world to Pakistan's President Zardari calling on him to roll out a massive education stipend programme for girls education across Pakistan.
Pakistan already has an existing stipend programme incentivising 600,000 poor families to send their girls to school and Avaaz members are calling for it to be scaled up and renamed 'Malala Money' - in honour of the brave young education activist who has inspired people around the world. Stipend programmes have revolutionised the lives of girls in Bangladesh and were introduced to the Punjab in Pakistan in 2004, helping to increase enrolment by 9 per cent.
UN Education Envoy Gordon Brown said, "I believe that if we act together in speaking out, as Avaaz's members have done, we can begin to deliver on our promise of education - for Malala, for the children of Pakistan, and for the 61 million children who do not receive an education around the world."
While there are barriers to getting girls into school - such as a lack of female teachers to teach girls, not enough schools and increasing security threats - the key barrier to getting girls learning is poverty, which 'Malala Money' stipends can overcome.
In 2006, the Pakistani State Bank evaluated the stipend programme and recommended it be extended across the country with families sent postal orders direct - which avoided corruption in the system - so that girls receive a stipend for schooling. Currently the amount per child is $2.50 a month (Rs 230). A national 'Malala Money' roll out plan could transform the lives of the 3.2 million girls out of primary and 3.9 million out of secondary school.
Campaign Director at Avaaz Alex Wilks said, "Malala Money grants of just a few dollars a month could transform the lives of millions of girls who are currently shut out of education. Malala has inspired the world -- and it’s now down to Pakistan’s politicians to make her dream come true."
Avaaz is urging President Zardari and the heads of all Pakistan’s provinces to roll out a national 'Malala Money' stipend programme with donor money from the UK, US and World Bank to extend it to every girl across the country.