You’ve probably heard by now of Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani who survived a gunshot to the head in the name of education equality. As jihadists took over her region and began prohibiting women from receiving an education, Yousafzai – at age 12 – spoke out against the blatant injustices imposed on her and those around her. While her thoughts were originally expressed anonymously, her name was eventually made public and, consequently, she was attacked one day while riding the bus. After being flown to the UK for treatment, Yousafzai made an incredible recovery and has since been traveling the globe to advocate for equal rights education. Recently, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, which would have made her the youngest laureate ever.
While not ultimately awarded the prize, Yousafzai and her story continue to offer inspiration and hope for people across the globe. Her memoir, I Am Malala, has just been published, and Yousafzai has been persistent in promoting its message of fighting injustice through education. (Watch her poignant interview on The Daily Show here.)
In the United States, where (equal) education is a federal mandate, it’s nearly impossible to imagine schools being destroyed and children being told they are simply not allowed to learn – or, more grimly, literally being shot for trying. It’s probably safe to say that, at times, we even take it for granted. Learning Malala Yousafzai’s story can be a powerful way to talk to students about the importance of education. Have you shared it with your class? If so, how did you approach it, and how was it received? Please discuss in the comments below.