|Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize 2014|
Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child-rights campaigner, and Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. The prize was awarded for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to an education.
At 17, Malala is the same age as many of those in the Sixth Form form at PGS and the youngest- ever recipient of the prize. She narrowly escaped death after being shot in the head by Taliban gunmen two years ago whilst campaigning for girls' education in Pakistan. She now lives and studies in Birmingham and confessed that she was in her chemistry class, studying electrolysis, when the thrilling news was revealed to her.
I am sure many would agree when I say Malala is an inspiration. At 11 years old, she had already begun her fight for education rights. She expressed her outrage to the local newspaper regarding the Taliban’s policies: "How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to an education?" and was also writing a blog for the BBC, describing life under Taliban rule.
Since the failed assassination attempt, terrorists have said that they will attack her again if they get the chance; but Malala refuses to be intimidated. The only thing she admits is that she is ‘a little bit scared of ghosts,’ a phobia I am sure many of us can relate to, but, unlike many, she courageously declared: “I’m not afraid of the Taliban. No, not at all.”
I think it is easy to take for granted the fantastic education we receive at PGS and more importantly – as girls and boys - our unfettered entitlement to education. Malala forces us to acknowledge how lucky we are. In 2012 the United Nations declared the teenager's birthday "Malala Day" She stood up to address the UN’s dignitaries and told them about how she represents the estimated 57 million children around the globe who are unable to attend school.
“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world,” she said later. “Education is the only solution. Education first.”
Malala’s pronouncement above sounds simple enough but, even in the twenty-first century, we are far from achieving this goal, something that is arguably a basic right, alongside access to healthcare and clean water. Why?