Even before becoming a Nobel laureate, Malala had won international accolades for her courage and love for education.

Her address at the United Nations General Assembly was a demonstration of her conviction, commitment, eloquence and composure. Here was a brave teenager sending a message to the whole world for children’s education. Mark her words:

Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing. Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. I am just one of them.

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So here I stand... one girl among many.

I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys.

I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.

Those who have fought for their rights:

Their right to live in peace.

Their right to be treated with dignity.

Their right to equality of opportunity.

Their right to be educated.

One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.

Education is the only solution. Education First.

Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister, came to Islamabad earlier this year as a special envoy for the UN Secretary General, Ban-Ki-Moon to launch a campaign for “Education For All” in Pakistan as a part of the global Malala movement for the education of children. The meeting held in the Serena Hotel was chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistani leaders including the Prime Minister have paid glowing tributes to Malala on winning the Nobel Prize. The Punjab Chief Minister has announced the establishment of a university after her name. The media has also highlighted her achievement and has drawn attention to her mission.

Euphoria arising out of pride felt for a great Pakistani has, more or less, petered out and there is hardly any sign of urgency on the part of the government to make a determined effort to speed-upprogrammes for achieving Education For All Goals.

According to these six goals, Pakistan is to attain 86% literacy by the end of the year 2015, meet the target of 100% universal primary education and substantially realize gender parity in education.

Less than 15 months are left to achieve these goals.

What is the present state of affairs in regard to EFA in Pakistan?

Literacy is reported to be around 58%. Female literacy is considerably lower. The figures for rural population especially of females are scandalously low.

The net primary school enrolment rate is officially estimated at about 66%.And quality of education imparted to primary school children, according to ASER (Annual Survey of Education Report) is disappointing. 5th class students cannot properly read 3rd grade books nor do arithmetic sums!

Add to this picture the depressing fact that Pakistan has the second highest number school dropouts. This is despite the addition of a new article in the Constitution which gives every child in the country the right to education. Years have gone by and the required enabling legislation in most of the provinces has yet to be passed. Sindh has promulgated the law but has done nothing to implement the Constitutional provision to ensure free and compulsory education of children—age 5 to 16.

Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PPP’s youthful chairman while congratulating Malala has invited her to work with him for the spread of education in the province. Malala may or may not come to take up the proposed task.The fact remains that the state of education in the Sindh province is most disappointing, if not abysmal. Thousands of school buildings remain occupied by waderas and other influential people. Only a fraction of the literacy centres required to be opened according to the National Plan of Action have been set up. Projects are announced but not implemented.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had come up with a manifesto, which contained an impressive programme for spreading literacy. A special study for this purpose was undertaken and made a part of the manifesto. Little of it has been put on the ground. The position in Balochistan is worse.

Punjab is the only province, which has a department exclusively for literacy. Here too only a limited number of required centres have been opened. Although an Ordinance has been issued to enable the government to start implementing Article 25-A requiring the education of all children of ages 5 to 16, no comprehensive programme has been chalked out to attain to desired objective.

So Mr. Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of the provinces, will you please find time to look into the task of achieving EFA goals and find out why the progress has remained so dismal? Do please rise to heed Malala Yousafzai’s repeated calls for accelerating efforts to launch the required programmes with a view to ensuring that every child attends school and completes at least five years of primary education.

Today the average rate of literacy is 84%. It is indeed a matter of shame that Pakistan lags behind even the developing countries.

The world is marching ahead and the United Nations General Assembly has already prepared a Post-2015 agenda, which comprises of 17 new Sustainable Development Goals with 169 targets. And where do we stand? Right at the bottom struggling woefully to achieve a small part of the Millennium Development and EFA goals (which were set to be attained by 2015).

I appeal in particular to Shahbaz Sharif in the Punjab and Imran Khan in KPK, keen as they claim to be for promoting literacy and education, to honestly and expeditiously draw up literacy programmes well-supported with adequate funds and dynamic functionaries and also ensure that progress is vigorously monitored, month by month.

I wonder if Bilawal means what he says. The challenge is to reorganize the Sindh education department and upscale the literacy programmes in all the districts of the province. Malala may not be able to come to aid him but she certainly is a beacon of light and inspiration for him.

Last but not the least, it is time UNESCO attends to its basic obligation of educating and influencing governments at the centre and the provinces to muster resolve and resources to make up for lost time. The 2012 Paris Communiqué in this respect requires all the country UNESCO offices to pull their weight and help governments to ensure that literacy and primary education targets are met by the end of 2015. In this task UNESCO can draw on the cooperation of civil society organizations like PACADE, Bunyad and ITA.

 The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political and international relations analyst.