Books not bullets
Here is my slogan… our slogan, the slogan of millions of children all over the world: Books not bullets!
Books not bullets is not an empty slogan, it is a strategy to build lasting peace and tackle the huge challenges facing our world.
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.
So where do we start? We start with the impossible
The world made a brave attempt at basic education for all starting in 2000 with the Millennium Development Goals. We made progress in getting many girls into school for the first time, but we did not do so well at 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. 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. 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.
Getting millions of girls into school seems impossible. Like my story, it is not. What we have seen is that when we choose to act, girls in the darkest corners of the world can be reached with the light of education.