The story of Shazia Ramzan, Malala’s schoolfriend, shows why education must be a right for all children, Gordon Brown

As a child, Ramzan’s fight for an education almost cost her her life. Worldwide, there are 222 million children out of school who urgently need our help

  • Gordon Brown is chairman of the UN’s Education Cannot Wait fund and was UK prime minister between 2007 and 2010.

Shazia Ramzan has spent most of her young life fighting for her right – and the right of all girls – to go to school. In 2012, at the age of 14, sitting alongside her friend Malala Yousafzai on a bus that was going from school to her home, in the Swat valley in the north of Pakistan, she was shot at by an extremist intent on stopping girls from getting an education. She suffered injuries from which she, Malala and their friend Kainat took months to recover.

After completing a nursing degree at Edinburgh University, and preparing to start her own nurses’ training school in Pakistan, Shazia almost always has the needs of girls in her home area in her thoughts. In her time between classes, she is raising funds for Pakistani charities that are quietly but effectively helping Afghan girls who have been losing out on their education since the Taliban shut them out of the country’s secondary schools.

Girls in Afghanistan are also at risk of punishment beatings if they attend underground schools run by their parents and teachers.

Around 42 million girls, do not go to school at all, while the others are suffering so many disruptions in their education that they fail to acquire even the most basic literacy and numeracy skills.

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