In the wake of the Peshawar attack, a web movement to build 141 new schools across Pakistan – one in the memory of each victim – went viral. The Citizens Foundation (TCF), my former employer in Karachi, has committed to build all the schools. It needs to raise $21m (£14m) to build the schools.
The response to this movement – led by civil society and independent of the Pakistani government – has been palpable. It received individual commitments to build four of the schools in just the first three days, and at least 16,000 people around the world have pledged their support. TCF believes it can reach the target in three years, which is likely given its record of building 70 to a 100 schools a year. The first school will open its doors in 2015.
This is just one initiative, but perhaps the best tribute possible to the students and teachers who were giving and receiving the one thing that directly undercuts the criminal ignorance that took their lives. Pakistan can beat extremism but it cannot do it without reforming its broken education system; breathing life in each one of its ghost schools; rewriting the national curriculum to reflect progressive and tolerant values; and putting every single child into school.
Nelson Mandela told us, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” It won’t be the first time.