How one girl spoke up for learning
As you read this, you’ve already missed weeks of school because of corona virus. It’s a weird situation, isn’t it ? Are you even beginning to miss school ? Just a bit ?
Well, you’re not alone. In 188 countries, more than 1.7 billion children and young people are in the same boat. So I’d like to tell you a story, which sounds incredible but is absolutely true. I think it might give you a boost.
This is the story of Malala.
Dreaming of a school
Malala was born in the Swat valley, a beautiful, mountainous region of Pakistan, close to the border with Afghanistan. As a little girl, she was happy and carefree. Her dad realized his lifelong dream by setting up his own school.
Her dad’s school also became Malala’s dream – even when she was very small she loved to be there and couldn’t wait to be old enough to start studying.
Once she started school, Malala loved learning so much that she was top of the class.
A stubborn girl
This happy life changed when men with guns called the Taliban grabbed control of the region. They banned girls from going to school.
Many of Malala’s friends started to miss classes and stay at home. The armed men tried to force her dad, as the headmaster, to stop teaching girls.
But every morning Malala bravely kept going to school – praying that it hadn’t been blown up in the night.
Speaking for all
One day, the television came to make a programme about the school.
Malala spoke to the journalists about how girls had a right to be educated. As she talked, she realised she wasn’t just speaking for herself but for all the girls who could not – or dared not – come to school.
That gave her new strength!
Malala was only 10. But she understood that she could change things in her country.
From that day on, she took ever chance she could to speak out against what was happening in Pakistan. She wrote a blog for the BBC in London and was featured in a film by the New York Times.
Malala was heard across the world.
Not everyone was pleased…
Of course, the Taliban didn’t like it. Malala got threats. But she refused to give up her right to an education.
When she was 15, her life changed forever. A man with a gun got on her school bus. He shot Malala. Doctors saved her life and she was flown to England. There she made a slow but full recovery.
Helping the world’s children
Nine months after she was shot, she turned 16. It became a very special day.
Malala spoke at the United Nations, the place in New York where governments of all the countries in the world meet. The UN decreed that her birthday should forever after be called “Malala Day”. And that’s why every July 12, Malala’s birthday, we all celebrate people who stand up for children and their right to have an education.
When she was 17, she became the youngest person ever to win the famous Nobel Peace Prize.
Today, Malala is 22. She and her family live in England, where she studies at Oxford University. She is stronger and more determined than ever.
She wrote a book, I Am Malala, to tell her story and she set up an organisation that helps children all over the world to go to school. Malala never gave up because she said she was sure of this :
Fortunately, of course, most children don’t have to fight like Malala for the right to go to school. And I’m sure you’re working hard to follow your lessons at home!
Would you like some tips on how to organise yourself and stay positive?
Why not take a look at this article on WoW! We share some really good advice from astronauts and other adventurers. They know what it’s like to be stuck inside for weeks and have great tips on staying positive – and getting on with your family!
This article was written in collaboration with Le sens de l’école , an organisation dedicated to inspiring children to make the most of school.