The words of a young girl whose determination to go to school made her a target for the Taliban has made others eager to learn – Publicated on The Guardian, by Saba Imtiaz in Karachi, July 12, 2013.
For many in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, is a symbol of resilience and courage in her fight for the right of young girls to receive an education. For hardline right-wing groups and conspiracy theorists, she is a controversial figure accused of being a “CIA agent” and having staged the attack on herself.
But for young Pashtun girls in Karachi, Malala’s struggle to get an education in the Swat region amid an insurgency is an inspiration. This part of Malala’s life – documented in a diary published by the BBC – has encouraged many of them to start writing and sharing their own dreams of staying in school.
After the Pakistani Taliban attempted to assassinate Malala last October, a young teacher with the Teach for Pakistan programme started reading Malala’s diary to her 13-year-old pupils at a government-run secondary school in Karachi … //
… I love going to school:
Aliya said she had been moved by reading Malala’s diary. “I felt very bad that she wasn’t allowed to study. It was only her parents who did a great service to her and helped her do so,” she said.
“I love going to school,” Aliya said. “My teacher is there, my friends are there. I get up early for school, and I’m even attending summer camp where I’ve taken every single class. I love studying.”
She rattled off a list of things she wants to do when she’s older, including going to one of the country’s most prestigious private universities. “I want to take science subjects in class 9 and class 10, and then study computer science at LUMS [Lahore University of Management Sciences], and then I’m going to work for Teach for Pakistan!,” she said, referring to the nationwide movement of graduates who volunteer to teach in under-resourced schools.
For many of these girls, there is little hope that they will ever get more than a secondary school certificate. Many are taken out of school when they are 14 to get married. In this community, there is no concept of women working, though that is changing in other Pashtun districts in Karachi. At a parent-teacher conference, Qureshi recalled a girl’s father telling her that he was “very worried” about his daughter’s future. “I see that she’s so intelligent and I want to help her, but how?” he said.
Despite the challenges, Teach for Pakistan says these young girls are incredibly eager to learn, and spend their breaks in the classroom so they have an opportunity to closely engage with their teachers. The organisation’s teaching fellows work with the communities and the parents – who they consider the biggest stakeholders – to ensure that they are all on board and involved with the girls’ education. In Aliya and Sara’s school, enrolment has nearly doubled this year as a result. More women are applying to work at Teach for Pakistan, which means that they can place more teachers in girls’ schools.
Another entry by Sara recalls a conversation she had with her sister about what she wanted to do later in life. “Sometimes I think: what will I become? I like many professions like singer, actor, writer, teacher, poet whatever, but my most favourite is army … If I cannot become something special, I want to become a good person.”
* (The names of pupils have been changed to protect their identity).
Links on Malala Yousafza:
Malala Yousafza on en.wikipedia, including See also and it’s External Links: … born 12 July 1997) is a Pakistani school pupil and education activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She is known for her education and women’s rights activism in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school …;
ONU: vibrant plaidoyer de Malala Yousafzai en faveur de l’éducation pour tous, dans ONU.org, le 12 juillet 2013.