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One Month on, the World Must Stand Up for Education

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Over a month has passed since the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria. This abhorrent tragedy has led the people of Nigeria - and beyond -to show a renewed resolve that their children must be allowed to go to school, and safely.

Malala Yousafzai's shooting and the Nigerian abduction are at the same, extreme end of a spectrum of belief which sadly exists across many parts of the world; a belief that girls shouldn't have the chance to learn.

This belief belongs to a minority - but a vocal one. And at times like this it is the duty of the public, with NGOs like Plan UK and others, to ensure that our voices are heard above those who think that a girl's only role is to be a child bride.

Thanks to #BringBackOurGirls, that has been the case. Now, of course, we must all keep the world's attention on Nigeria to ensure that these girls are safely returned to their families - and, with time, to school.

Malala's story - and the global wave of support she rallied - brought a raft of progress in Pakistan, with new commitments to education made by the government there. Her historic UN speech brought together young people from across the world who together declared that education is the right of every girl - and every boy too.

Rather than intimidating us, or calling into question this conviction, the abduction in Nigeria is again showing that, as a global community, we believe that a girl's right to education is non-negotiable. And for that to be the case, they must be safe at school.

But, as crucial as this worldwide outcry is, it must again be translated into action. Next month we have a good place to start. The replenishment, or funding conference, of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is, in effect, the moment when the world shows its commitment to providing a safe school place for every child.

The GPE is the international financing pot for education - it is in a unique position to co-ordinate the distribution of resources to provide education for those children who still go without. Nigeria in particular stands to benefit significantly: it is the country with the largest single number of children out of school, with 10 million children of primary age having never attended class.

We at Plan are calling on the UK government to continue its leading role in funding the GPE - and we're asking you to help us to do so. Britain can be proud of its record to date, and as Malala's adopted home and one of the key players in the search for the missing girls, it surely falls on us to make the right pledge next month.

The abduction in Nigeria, sadly, is not an isolated incident. Rather, it's a reflection of a wider pattern of abuse of girls' rights across the globe. Every two seconds a girl is forced into marriage. Nearly 200 girls are dying daily in childbirth because their young bodies are just not ready. And 65million girls globally are being denied an education.

It's time to put a stop to this tragic reality. Let's bring back our girls - and let's speak out in support of every girl's right to live free of fear of violence, to go to school, to marry who they want and when they want. In short, to get the same chances and opportunities as their brothers.

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