Malala Yousafzai: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
by James Lamont
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the achievements of Malala Yousafzai.
Preparation and materials
- Download an up-to-date image of Malala.
- Imagine you were denied your right to education. That, one day, your school was closed to you because of who you are. That you were threatened with death for pursuing your right to learn.
- One person who knows this all too well is Malala Yousafzai. Malala grew up in Pakistan’s Swat region. This area of north-west Pakistan has seen many battles between the government and Islamic militias allied to the Taliban. As the Taliban took more and more territory, they forced their hardline views on the people, in particular women. The Taliban did not tolerate education for women.
- In January 2009, Malala’s school broke up for the winter vacation. She and her classmates knew that they might not come back again. Malala recorded her feelings at this time in her diary, and in March that year it was anonymously published on BBC Urdu. She wrote about her fears and her desire for girls to be educated. She chose the pen name Gul Makai, the heroine from a local folk tale.
- Her classmates began to drop out of school as militant threats grew more severe, but Malala continued to write about her desire for education and the difficulties she was facing. She and her classmates fled the region, along with many others, after the government launched an offensive against the militants, but she later returned, after winning the International Children’s Peace Prize and the Pakistani government’s National Peace Award, which has been renamed the Malala Peace Prize.
- However, she still received threats from militants and in 2012 she was shot. The Taliban claimed she was shot for “promoting secular education”. Fortunately, she survived the attack and recovered in the UK. She now attends school here.
- In 2014, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian campaigner for the rights of children. The fact that these two people share this award shows the importance of a child’s right to education. People in the Western nations enjoy great freedoms and opportunities. Malala’s story is a reminder that not everyone is so lucky, and that we must work to ensure that the life we enjoy is available to all.
Time for reflection
Light a candle.
This candle shines as a light – a light to remind us of the power of education. How it illuminates and takes away our fear and ignorance.
Today, let’s be thankful for Malala and Kailash: for the courage they have shown and the models they have become for us, to help us value education and freedom; two things that we take for granted, and that could have cost Malala her life.
"Freedom" by George Michael.