Pakistan marks "Malala Day", poor children to get cash for school

ISLAMABAD Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:26pm IST

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai reads a book as she recuperates at the The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in this undated handout photograph released on November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/Handout

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai reads a book as she recuperates at the The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in this undated handout photograph released on November 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/Handout

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The families of more than 3 million poor children in Pakistan will receive cash stipends if their children go to school, the government said as officials prepared to mark "Malala Day" on Saturday in support of a schoolgirl shot by the Taliban.

U.N. officials declared Malala Day one month after 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai and two of her classmates were shot by the Pakistan Taliban. She had been targeted for speaking out against the insurgency.

In the days following the shooting, Yousufzai became an international icon and world leaders pledged to support her campaign for girls' education. She is now recovering in a British hospital.

On Friday, Pakistani president Asif Zardari added his signature to petitions signed by more than a million people urging Pakistan to pay stipends to families who put their girls in school in honor of Malala.

"Malala's dreams represent what is best about Pakistan," said former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as he presented the petitions to President Zardari.

Tens of thousands of Britons have called on the government to nominate Malala Yousufzai for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work promoting girls' education.

On Friday, the government announced that poor families will now receive $2 a month per child in primary school.

The program will be funded by the World Bank and Britain and distributed through the government's Benazir Income Support Programme, designed to give small cash payments to needy families. The families in the programme already receive $10 a month for basic expenditure.

After a stipend programme was put in place in Pakistan's Punjab province, a World Bank study found a nine percent increase in girls' enrolment over two years, said Alaphia Zoyab, the South Asia campaigner for internet activist group Avaaz.

Pakistan is struggling to overcome widespread poverty, a Taliban insurgency and massive, endemic corruption. Less than 0.57 percent of Pakistan's 180 million citizens pay income tax, money that the government could use to educate poor children.

Instead, the Pakistani government relies on foreign donors to fund many social programs. Britain is due to spend around $1 billion on helping Pakistan educate poor children by 2015. (Reporting By Katharine Houreld; Editing by Michael Perry)

FILED UNDER:

Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

Down Under

Down Under

Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage