Pakistani teenage child rights activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousufzai today called on world leaders to choose books over bullets and give every girl 12 years of free education.
Writing in the Telegraph, Malala said, "I want world leaders to choose books over bullets. It may look as if I am naive. I'm still a teenager. But I measure the world in hope, not doubt. We can afford to give every girl 12 years of free education."
"It is absolutely in our power, and when we do, we will realise a whole new world of possibility. The world made a brave attempt at basic education for all starting in 2000 with the Millennium Development Goals," Malala, who will be 18 this month, wrote.
Noting that progress had been made in getting many girls into school for the first time, Malala pointed out that not much progress was made in keeping them in education and giving them a future beyond basic literacy and math skills.
"We made little progress in enrolling girls in secondary education where over 60 million adolescents of lower secondary age are still out of school. Eighty per cent of disadvantaged girls in poor countries fail to complete lower secondary school," she wrote.
"The world has not even bothered counting how many complete upper secondary, grades 10, 11 and 12 in many countries. To a generation of girls the world told them that a basic education was all they deserved. That is unacceptable," said Malala, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
Malala asserted that if world leaders want 12 years of quality education for their own children, it is also time to ensure it for the rest of the world's children.
"The good news is we have a plan to change course, by fully funding education for 12 years, starting with the hardest to reach. Girls like myself and Mezon," she wrote.
Malala was targeted by Taliban gunmen while she was returning home from school in the town of Mingora by bus which the gunmen boarded and asked for her by name before shooting her in the head in 2012.