Ziauddin Yousafzai: Safe Schools Conference

"It's our dream to see a world where every girl and boy can learn and lead. And where they can have access to safe, free and quality education."

Hi, Assalam u alaikum, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you to the governments of Nigeria and Argentina and to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and to all partners who organised this important conference and gave me an opportunity to speak.

As a father and as a teacher, I have firsthand experience of running a school and seeing education during peacetime. I started a school in 1994. And until 2007, that school was a safe haven for the children and teachers. Children were following their dreams. They were growing and thriving.

But once Taliban started their terror and violence in the beautiful Swat Valley, everything changed.

They forced us to change the uniform of the children. They forced us to segregate little, small boys and girls in the classrooms. And they bombed more than 400 schools. And later on, they banned girls' education completely. They also attacked my daughter, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking for the right of girls' education. Three years later, they attacked Army Public School in Peshawar, where they massacred 132 boys. And you know about the heart-wrenching stories of Boko Haram's abduction of the innocent girls in Nigeria. And you also know what's happening in Afghanistan right now. After Kabul's fall, Taliban have banned girls' secondary education. So all this is happening in the world. Two hundred schools have been harmed in the last one year.

That's why [the] Safe Schools Declaration is so crucial for the safety of our children.

When I spoke at the first Safe Schools Conference in Oslo, there were 34 founding signatories to the Safe Schools Declaration. Right now, there are 112. But a lot of work is yet to be done because education is the only phenomenon that can promote our peace, health, stability, economies and that can protect our environment and climate. That's why I will urge all governments to sign [the] Safe Schools Declaration and to ensure its implementation.

Malala Fund and I recommit ourselves to be working with your governments. It's our dream to see a world where every girl and boy can learn and lead. And where they can have access to safe, free and quality education. Thank you very much.


Ziauddin Yousafzai is an activist, educator and the father of Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai. As co-founder of Malala Fund, he advocates for every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

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