Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday by opening a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

The school will focus on providing baccalaureate and vocational degrees to Syrian girls specifically, and give a skill-based education designed to generate independent income.

In a recent statement, Malala outlined her intentions for the project:

I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. On this day, I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region, and the world: You are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria’s children.

Today, on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand our leaders invest in books instead of bullets. Books, not bullets, will pave the path toward peace and prosperity.

The Malala Fund, a non-profit started by Yousafzai, is calling for an additional $39 billion to be invested towards education. This, according to the organization, is the equivalent of eight days of military spending, and would provide free education for 12 years.

Cover image: Wikimedia Commons