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Pakistani Students Continue to Stand Up for Education: We Must Stand With Them

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MALALA YOUSAFZAI
AP

A second Pakistani girl is now speaking out publicly about threats against her for attending school. Hina Khan, now 17, has been an advocate for education, particularly girls', and now is unable to leave her house because of death threats.

Pakistan is now one of the most dangerous places in the world to attend school. Human Rights Watch has recorded 96 school attacks this year. In July, a woman's rights activist was murdered for her work on girls' education. In December, a teacher who supported children's and women's rights was gunned down on his way to school. And just three days after the horrific attack on Malala Yousafzai, three students returning from university had acid thrown on them.

All of this shows that the urgency of the campaign to support Malala and the 61 million girls and boys she stands for who are not able to go to school. As UN Special Envoy for Global Education, I believe we must collectively realize a world where all children can go to school and learn. A world where school is a safe place and where no one is threatened for wanting an education.

From across the globe, global citizens are standing up and signing the petition at www.iammalala.org to ensure that all children go to school. My goal is to deliver over one million signatures to President Zardari on November 10th, one month after the tragic shooting of Malala, and show him that people from across the globe and within Pakistan want change.

There is an outpouring of international support as the petition is well on its way to one million. David Beckham and Andy Murray have posted it on their Facebook pages. Lewis Hamilton is tweeting to his fans. UN Women, the Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA and all agencies are standing up for girls' right to go to school.

We all must sign the petition, but we cannot stop there. We must ensure every girl and every boy is in school, learning and instilled with the values of global citizenship. This is the vision of the UN Secretary-General's Education First initiative and this is the only option if we want a world with mutual respect for girls and boys free of fear and violence.

We cannot let the threat of violence win over the hope of an education. We must be the first generation to act and stand up for education. Let us make November 10th the day we all stand for education.