Parents, you’ve heard it before. And even though it’s early in the school year, you’re likely hearing it now.
“I hate school!”
“The teachers suck!”
“There’s too much homework!”
“They won’t let us use our [insert personal electronic device of child’s choice]. How am I supposed to keep up with my friends if I can’t text them during the day??!!”
Before you annoy your kids for the bazillionth time about how important education is, why they need to pay attention to their teachers and how it will help them get good jobs and supplement your paltry savings and (possible lack of ) Medicare and Social Security later on, tell them about Malala, and the sacrifices she’s made in order to go to school.
Malala Yousufzai is fourteen years old, and lives in Pakistan‘s Swat Valley region. For years, the Taliban has fought to gain control of this region, imposing stifling rules and strangling oppression on the people there, particularly on women. The aim of these terrorists is to cut off any Western influences, on the grounds that they are evil. These influences include women getting an education, something Malala has been campaigning for since she was eleven years old. On Tuesday, the Taliban decided it had heard enough from Malala.
They shot her in the head and neck as she left school, critically wounding her and several other girls. So far, she has defied the Taliban’s order to die.
To keep her safe and provide the best care, she has been moved to a hospital away from her home. The Taliban has already issued an edict, saying they are not done with her. For speaking out and encouraging something as revolutionary as education for girls, they will find her again and kill her.
Think about this: an entire terrorist organization, out to get a teenage girl. Not because she hurt anyone. Not because she threatened to bring down a building, a plane, or an entire government. But because she wants to learn the things your kids take for granted: history, geography, mathematics, literature. Because getting an education means she can help build a society that the terrorists cannot tear down. One built on tolerance, trust and freedom, as opposed to one built on fear, ignorance and the ruthless use of force against anyone who disagrees with an ideology based on control at all costs. That’s what scares the Taliban, and all the tiny-minded ilk that follow a similar path, regardless of where they live.
So teach your children about Malala and what she stands for. And remind them that they don’t have it that tough at school.
- Malala Yousufzai: Young activist attacked in Pakistan’s Swat – BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
- Doctors to decide if Malala to go abroad (nation.com.pk)
- Shooting of teen peace activist triggers revulsion (thehindu.com)
- Malala Yousufzai injured in gun attack on school van in Swat (dawn.com)