|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General to Islamabad College for Girls: ‘Go Out, Study,
Engage, Learn as Much as You Can about Our World’
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Islamabad College for Girls, on 13 August:
Assalam Alaikum. Thank you very much for your warm welcome. I am very grateful to Minister Rehman [Malik] and Principal [Shaista] Peerzada for organizing this special event at Islamabad College for Girls.
This is a holiday period. Schools are usually closed in August. But, I am thrilled that the doors of the Islamabad College for Girls are open today to the United Nations. The students here are sending a powerful and inspiring message: when it comes to education, there is no time to rest. You and I have the same passion for education. I did not have to read about the importance of education in a book. I lived it when I was a child and student in Korea.
I grew up in Korea just after the war. Like many young people in Pakistan, we had to struggle for our education. Our schools had been destroyed. We had no classroom and hardly any supplies. But, we had high hopes. We were hungry to learn. And the United Nations through UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] and UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] provided us help. We invested in education because we knew it would help us build a better life. I know you believe that, too.
The Islamabad College for Girls shows that the right to education should not be for some, but for all girls and boys in Pakistan. This should not be a dream, but a reality.
We just celebrated Eid and the end of Ramadan a few days ago. In the first few days of Ramadan, the United Nations had a special visitor — Malala Yousafzai. Many of you watched her very powerful and moving speech at the United Nations. She is a famous student, but I said she is also a teacher. You are also not just students, but teachers. You can teach others about the value of education for your lives — and for the life of your country.
There are some who might want to deny that right — particularly for girls. It happens in many cultures and contexts. It happened in my country, too. My mother and my grandmother were not provided the same opportunities for education. But, that changed in Korea and elsewhere.
Tomorrow, Pakistan celebrates Independence Day. It was the Quaid-e-Azam who said: “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.” I want all children and young people to have equal learning opportunities. This is why I launched my Global Education First Initiative last year. Our goal is for all children to be in good schools with quality education.
We are also stressing global citizenship. I know you are proud citizens of Pakistan, but you are also citizens of the world. Go out, study, engage and learn as much as you can about our world. Be both students and teachers. Put education first. And be a global citizen. Thank you. Shukriya.
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