Turning 18, Malala says she'll remain 'voice of children'

Tue Jul 7, 2015 9:56am EDT
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By Stine Jacobsen and Alister Doyle

OSLO (Reuters) - Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, urged an extra $39 billion a year for education worldwide on Tuesday and said she wants to remain the "voice of children" even after she turns 18 next week.

The cash, to allow all children to attend secondary schools, was the equivalent of cutting global military spending for eight days, she told Reuters at an international education conference in Oslo.

"The world needs to think bigger and it needs to dream bigger," she said, saying U.N. goals for 2015 wrongly only focused on universal primary schooling. Fifty-nine million children, many in war zones, do not even attend primary school.

Best known by her first name, Malala became a global symbol of defiance after she was shot on a school bus in 2012 by the Taliban for advocating girls' rights.

The extra $39 billion a year is the estimated cost of extending basic education to 12 years from nine.

"If nine years of education is not enough for your children, it is not enough for the rest of the world's children," she told several hundred delegates including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Malala, who started her speech by saying "I am here as the voice of children", also noted she becomes an adult on July 12. "My life of being a child will come to an end, it's quite hard," she said.

But she said her approach will be unaffected.   Continued...

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai participates in the Oslo Summit on Education for Development at Oslo Plaza, Norway July, 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Vegard Wivestad Grott/NTB