By Gordon Brown, Special for CNN
Editor's note: Gordon Brown is a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education. He was formerly the UK's prime minister.
(CNN) - Today we can tell the remarkable story of Shazia Ramzan, a 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl.
Last October Shazia was travelling home from school with her friend Malala Yousafzai when a Taliban gunman boarded their bus and shot both of them. Malala suffered head and facial injuries and had to be rushed to hospital in the UK. Shot in the neck and arm, Shazia spent a month in hospital while her deep wounds healed. Both were attacked by terrorists who wanted to stop girls going to school.
Shazia dreams of being a doctor. Fighting back from her injuries, she attempted to resume her schooling at home in the Swat Valley. So keen was she to return to school at the earliest opportunity that she ignored continuing threats to her life from the same Taliban terrorists who shot her and Malala.
For months she has had to be escorted to school each day by two armed guards. Her home has had to be protected by police. Sadly, the more that Shazia spoke up, the more the threats escalated, making it difficult for her and her family to remain secure.And in the past few weeks violence has escalated across Pakistan. A female teacher was gunned down in front of her young son as she drove into her all girls' schools. A school principal was killed and his pupils severely injured when a bomb was thrown into a school playground in an all-girls school in Karachi just as a prize giving ceremony began.
Only ten days ago, in a massacre which will long be remembered as the single worst terrorist assault on girls' education in recent years, the bus in which 40 female students were travelling from their all-girls college campus in Quetta was blown up by a suicide bomber. 14 girls were killed. So violent was the terrorist attack that another group followed the injured girls to hospital and opened fire on them again.
Despite the public revulsion against the violence, the attacks have continued. Only this weekend two schools were blown up, while another two girls were murdered for posting a video in which they were filmed dancing in the rain.
By Gordon Brown, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Gordon Brown served as Britain's prime minister between 2007 and 2010 after a decade as the country's finance minister, or chancellor of the Exchequer. In July this year he was appointed as a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - Pakistan has a new heroine and a new cause - a girl's right to education - and after Friday's announcements from the Pakistani government that they will adopt new measures to get every child into school by end 2015, that cause has a timetable and a deadline for delivery.
Everywhere you go in Pakistan you find people talking animatedly about the 15-year-old girl, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban last month.
A rickshaw touring the streets of Islamabad has a slogan posted on it: "Malala for education and peace." Go to the local girls' school and every girl seems to have written either a poem or a song, a letter or a card to Malala.
Listen to the politicians and every speech is laced with references to the courage of Malala. Meet civil society organizations and they will tell you that the audience for their educational demands has risen markedly over the last few weeks.
It seems that Malala's courage has awoken Pakistan's silent majority who are no longer prepared to tolerate the threats and intimidations of the Pakistan Taliban.
Can Pakistan convert its momentary desire to speak out in support of Malala into a long term commitment to getting its three million girls and five million children into school? Can the politicians, long-criticized for a failure to deliver, find the teachers, the classrooms and the reading materials to give millions of children a basic education?
By Gordon Brown, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Gordon Brown served as Britain's Prime Minister between 2007 and 2010 after a decade as the country's finance minister, or Chancellor of the Exchequer. In July this year he was appointed as a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
(CNN) - News that a 14-year-old Pakistani girl was gunned down by the Taliban simply because she wanted to go to school has sparked a wave of protests and condemnation across the world.
As she fights for her life in hospital, Malala Yousafzai is being adopted as every child's sister and every parent's daughter.
Wearing "I am Malala" t-shirts, young people in Pakistan are not only challenging the Taliban's brutality and dogma, they're boldly affirming the right of every child to education.
The protests reveal a generation no longer willing to tolerate the gap between the promise of opportunity for all and the reality for millions of boys and girls shut out from even the most basic of primary schooling. Indeed, they are doing more to assert their right to education than the leaders who promised to deliver it.
If there is one idea that has been pre-eminent in the modern world, it is that every child should have the opportunity through schooling to rise as far as their talents can take them. For decades we have assumed the inevitability of the forward march of education, the inexorable year-on-year, continent-by-continent progress towards universal education.
But if there is one reality that exposes our failure to deliver, it is that there are 61 million young children like Malala who will not go to school today or any other day. Written off at five and six years old, they will never be able to bridge the gap between what they are and what they have in themselves to become.