NEW YORK CITY: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen shot by the Taliban, lent her support Monday to an initiative to provide schooling for thousands of Syrian school children.
The 16-year-old education activist attended a press conference unveiling the proposed initiative that would place some 400,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanese schools.
Malala did not address the gathering, but spoke one-on-one to one Syrian girl, Farah Haddad, who had been raised in Damascus, but was forced by the conflict to abandon her homeland for the United States.
In October of last year, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman — an attack that drew worldwide condemnation.
Gravely wounded, the Pakistani schoolgirl was flown to Britain for surgery. She returned to school in England last March, after recovering from her injuries.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, special envoy for global education at the United Nations, explained Monday that the proposed plan to teach children displaced by the war in Syria, “could start almost immediately by using schools in Lebanon which are already built and using teachers that are displaced from Syria to train these children.”
He added: “Instead of having only 30,000 children in Lebanon who are Syrian refugees getting education, we could have 400,000 children getting education over the next few months.”
The British former leader said he is seeking funding of about $175 million dollars to get the program off the ground.
“That is on average only a dollar a day for every child who would benefit from this program in Lebanon and so 400,000 children would be beneficiaries,” said Brown, adding that a meeting of potential donors would be held at the UN later Monday.
The plan would “use existing Lebanese schools which are built and don’t have to be constructed,” he added.