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Malala Day

See how education is reaching children in Pakistan

July 12 is Malala Yousafzai’s 20th birthday. It is also ‘Malala Day,’ named by the United Nations in honor of the young Pakistani activist’s fight for universal education, which continued undeterred even after she was shot by the Taliban in 2012 on her way home from school. 

In Pakistan, Malala’s homeland, nearly half of all children are out of school—and most of these are girls. The International Rescue Committee is there, working to help ensure that all children have access to education.

  • Worldwide, 62 million children are missing out on school because their countries are affected by conflict or natural disaster—with girls more than twice as likely as boys to be pulled out of the classroom. But education is essential, even during emergencies: It gives children the stability and skills they need to survive and thrive, and to seize opportunities for a brighter, more prosperous and more peaceful future.

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  • Girls are usually the first to be pulled out of school when a crisis strikes. But educating girls—half of the world’s population—can break cycles of poverty, boost social and economic development, improve health, and create better government. That makes it one of the most valuable and effective investments a country can make.

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  • Through the Pakistan Reading Project, the International Rescue Committee, USAID and 10 partner organizations are working to teach over 1 million girls and boys to read in a country with one of the highest child illiteracy rates in the world. Scholarships and specialized training for teachers are part of this ambitious effort.

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  • In addition, IRC mobile libraries like this one are traveling to 300 communities across Pakistan, each bringing 5,000 books in Urdu, Sindhi and English for children to read.

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  • These mobile libraries are also stocked with learning activities children can do together. By 2020, the IRC and our partners aim to improve the reading skills of 1.3 million children in grades 1 and 2 in seven provinces.

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  • Programs like this one are a lifeline to millions of vulnerable children—and a reminder that education is not a luxury, but a human right with life-changing impact. Learn more. Photos by Shahzad Fayyaz/IRC and PRP/IRC

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