As kids, some of you may have coasted through high school, slumped in the seats, getting high in the parking lot. Others decorate their walls with an expensive collection of diplomas and degrees (some of us dabbled a little in column A, a little in column B 😉 ). Whatever your attitude towards your education, I think we can all agree now that without school, none of us would get very far.
I loved school, so much that I stayed in until I was 27. My education has enriched my life beyond measure, I would not be the person I am today without it (I would also not have crippling student debt, but that’s another story!)
In the western world, we have an over-abundance of information, knowledge and learning at our disposal. It is hard to imagine a world like Malalas, where childhood does not necessarily include formal education. A world where you have to fight for even a basic elementary school education. But education for children, especially young girls, is at a critically low level.
- In the sub-Saharan, 11.07 million children leave school before completing their primary education. In South and West Asia, that number reaches 13.54 million
- 61 million primary school-age children were not enrolled in school in 2010. Of these children, 47 percent were never expected to enter school, 26 percent attended school but left, and the remaining 27 percent are expected to attend school in the future. Source: UNESCO
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, “I am Malala” is the story of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who spent her childhood fighting to learn while the Taliban regime was bombing girls schools. Her efforts have made enormous impact on girls’ education around the world. Unfortunately her actions also attracted the attention of the Taliban. On October 9th, 2012 she was shot in the head while returning home from school on the school bus. This book is her story.
My first impression of this book was, of course, that Malala is an extraordinary girl (who was ROBBED of that Nobel Peace Prize). But the other hero of this story is her father, Ziauddin Yousafazi. This man, raised as a traditional Muslim, turned around and worked his whole life to give his daughter the advantages his sisters did not have, He built a school for girls and kept it open despite so many obstacles and threats on his life.
My Father used to say “I will protect your freedom, Malala. Carry on with your dreams.”
-I am Malala, pg. 68
In my mind, it is far more difficult and heroic to see and rage against injustice when that injustice works in your favour.
Malala writes with love and compassion for her country and religion. This experience has not made her bitter or resentful. Her voice and message are of someone much older, and yet periodically in her book she speaks of an argument with a girlfriend or her brother and we are reminded that she is indeed only 16 (which is so delightful). If a girl can accomplish so much for education and women’s rights at an age when the only thing I was fighting for was Hanson tickets, then the least we can do is hear her story.
So, not only am I calling this book a must read, I am imploring you to visit http://www.malalafund.org/. Give if you can, even 5$ or just write a little note of support. Appreciate the opportunities that our education affords us and help others fight for the same.